ECA has long been involved in worker training programs, both through vocational education in our schools and through our relationships with the construction trade apprenticeship programs, so we understand better than most that there is a big shortfall in career/technical education.

That’s why were happy to see a key piece of bi-partisan legislation make it through the Congress and deliver a signature piece of President Trump’s workforce agenda.

Congress has tried unsuccessfully to modernize the program, which will help more than 11 million students and workers with technical and vocational education. The Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and its $1.2 billion authorized spending came through months of House/Senate negotiations. The Senate gave unanimous approval July 23rd of an amended version of a House bill passed last year. The House approved the amended bill two days later.

President Trump had urged Congress to act. “Congress should reauthorize #PerkinsCTE and ensure the American workforce remains stronger than EVER!” the President tweeted during the days leading up to the vote.

July was a flagship month for workers, with America in the midst of its longest streak of uninterrupted job growth ever recorded. The national media announced that there were more jobs available than workers with the capabilities to fill them—one reason for the passage of the bill.

In mid-July, President Trump signed an executive order establishing two new groups to oversee the expansion of noncollege worker training: the President’s National Council (Council) for the American Worker and the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board (Board) to solve the new challenges faced by American workers.

”We want to make sure that we have the workforce development programs we need to ensure these jobs are being filled by American workers,” the President said after signing the order.

The Council is a forum for the development of a national strategy to address urgent workforce issues, including:

  • Develop a national campaign to raise awareness of workforce issues, such as the urgency of the skills crisis and the importance of STEM education;
  • Create a plan for recognizing companies that demonstrate excellence in workplace education, training, retraining policies and workforce investment;
  • Help expand the number of apprenticeships and encourage increased investment in training and re-training American workers;
  • Recommend a specific course of action for increasing transparency and accountability related to education and jobtraining programs, and
  • Propose ways to increase available job data. ECA supports this expansion of vocational education in our schools to help our members meet their workforce needs

By Brandon Pensick, ECA President
[email protected]