Trump Signs Bill to Close Skills Gap

Trump signs bill skills gapPresident Donald Trump on July 31 signed into law a career and technical education bill, desperately needed by many employers, educators, and lawmakers. The bipartisan legislation will help align the U.S. education system with the nation’s rapidly evolving workforce needs.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which passed both the House and Senate unanimously, reforms the American career, technical, and vocational education system for the first time since 2006.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), will benefit more than 11 million students.

Among many important changes to skills-based education, the bill boosts the funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Program by up to $1.3 billion annually. The program will benefit secondary and post-secondary students across the country, providing on-the-job training in various fields including cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare.

“The legislation really is transformational in terms of what it does for restoring rungs on the ladder of opportunity for American citizens and families,” Thompson told The Epoch Times.

He said changes put forward in the legislation bring career and technical education into the 21st century.

“I am thrilled by the passage of this major bipartisan legislation and am excited to help educators and students adjust to these critical reforms to increase worker wages and strengthen our economy for generations to come,” Krishnamoorthi, co-sponsor of the bill stated in a press release.

The bill was voted on five times, three times in the House and twice in the Senate, due to amendments. The House passed its own version of the bill more than a year ago, but negotiations in the Senate had been at an impasse for months. The Trump administration has made closing the skills gap a top priority and hence pushed the Senate to take action on the bill.

According to media reports, Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s daughter and White House senior advisor, visited Capitol Hill in June to press senators on the bill.

Thompson said the administration’s support and engagement in the passage of the bill were very helpful.

National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons said in a statement, “Manufacturers are encouraged to have partners in the White House like the president and Ivanka Trump who are laser-focused on worker training.”

The American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, also applauded Congress and the administration for passage of the bill.

“ACS was encouraged to see lawmakers’ support for in-depth professional development with emphasis on apprenticeship and work-study programs,” stated the ACS in a statement.

The first federal law that provided funding for vocational education was passed in 1917 and since then career and technical education (CTE) has played a crucial role in U.S. secondary schools. However, CTE has been on the decline for the last few decades, according to Brian Jacob, former Brookings Institute expert and the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy and Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan.

Between 1990 and 2009, the number of CTE credits earned by high school students in the United States declined by 14 percent, he wrote in a Brookings report.

Starting in the 1980s, states increased the number of courses required for high school graduation. As a result, students had to take additional courses in core academic fields such as math, science, social studies, and foreign language. This requirement coupled with declining funds and a growing push toward a four-year college degree led to a sharp decline in CTE participation, stated Jacob.

U.S. job openings surged to record-high levels in recent months, with vacancies increasingly exceeding the number of unemployed workers. Companies are having trouble finding suitable workers due to a growing skills gap. The skills shortage is a broad issue that affects many U.S. industries and forms a threat to future economic growth.

To resolve the problem, Trump signed an executive order on July 19 that created a national council charged with developing a strategy to grow the workforce. During the executive order signing, over 20 companies and organizations pledged to provide training to at least 3.8 million American students and workers for new jobs.

Last year, Trump also signed an executive order to ease the regulatory burden on apprenticeship programs and took action to increase access to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education for K-12 students.

Reprinted with permission from - The Epoch Times - by Emel Akan

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4 years ago

Thank goodness for our President!! He has worked hard to get our country back on track so that future generations will have the benefits of being American! Having a skill to earn a living, be a tax payer and provide for your family! Hard work, diligence, self sufficiency, treat others as you want to be treated, American values!!

Susan Atwood
4 years ago

OK…this is a good thing. As an educator (at the college level) I have seen the need for a population of students more suited for vocational and technical education/training. Not everyone is suited for a four year degree.

4 years ago

There is a Technical high school in Tampa,FL that has the highest percentage of graduates in the area. What does that tell you? Not everyone needs to go college and those students should have an option of learning technical skills. This country needs electricians, plumbers, construction workers, etc and those skills have been declining because liberal socialist educators have put so much emphasis on college degrees. Just another ploy to bring middle class down. I think every high school should have a technical school as part of their curriculum. The one in Tampa is too far away for students too attend if they live in surrounding towns especially is they have to travel 30, 40 or 50 miles to get there. Students in smaller communities should have the same opportunities as students in larger cities.

There use to be technical schools in the county I live in where students could attend after HS graduation but those have all closed down. If it’s not viable to. have them in high schools then these should be made available again but maybe the same as a state university to make them more affordable.

4 years ago

A step in the right direction, as long as they can reassure us that unions will not be one of the recipients of the funds.
Also, I wonder who will be teaching these “trades” courses—I hope the system will look to retired or semi-retired industry professionals, not young things right out of college who equate having a teaching degree with “experience”.
If you have young children or grand children, talk about your jobs. Expose them to different career paths early in life—not as a lecture, but rather as part of everyday conversation. Because my kids made it very clear early in life what they were interested in, we were able to suggest many different options as they grew. If they remain unaware of the options, they are more likely to flounder at an age when they need to be setting goals and making important decisions about their future.

4 years ago
Reply to  Kim

I agree with you Kim. I don’t know who technical schools hire to teach but retired industry workers with the patience to teach is an excellent way for our students to learn skills.

4 years ago
Reply to  HAP

Many years ago, I was encouraged to teach a class at a junior college in the industry I had been part of for about 25 years. You would not believe the amount of paperwork I needed to submit! Since I was still self-employed, I decided not to proceed.
Another benefit is getting some of these students into internships. How easy would that be to recruit–or put up for consideration–some of those bright and focused students who have proven themselves in the classroom?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x