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Major Bipartisan Breakthrough on Career and Technical Education Bill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Bob Casey, D-Pa., along with Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Ranking Member Patty Murray, D-Wash., applauded the committee’s passage of legislation to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act.


The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act would make important, necessary updates to career and technical education to give workers and students the skills they need to find high-skill, high-wage or in-demand jobs. It would give businesses the ability to find the talent they need to compete in a changing 21st century economy.


“I appreciate the Chairman and Ranking Member, HELP member offices and stakeholders for working with us over the last few years on legislation to reauthorize the Perkins CTE Act,” Enzi said. “Career and technical education is an increasingly important part of preparing Americans to enter and thrive in the modern workforce. This reauthorization is particularly important to the state of Wyoming, where one sixth of school districts have chosen not to participate in this program because the compliance and reporting burdens have been too heavy to justify the funds they would receive. I am proud of this bipartisan breakthrough that supports learning opportunities for students to gain technical skills and knowledge.”


“Reauthorizing and updating the Perkins program is critical to creating jobs, growing wages and ensuring our workers have the tools to out-compete anyone in the world,” Casey said. “We were able to work together in a bipartisan manner on legislation that will strengthen career pathways, foster innovation and improve access for traditionally underrepresented populations, including students with disabilities, ensuring better outcomes for all students, educators and our economy.”


“What I hear most often from Tennessee employers is that they need more skilled workers,” Alexander said. “The Perkins CTE Act funds the programs that help train the skilled workers we need—for example, a high school student looking to become a computer coder, or an adult going back to school to learn about commercial construction. This reauthorization makes important updates to the law, including limiting the role of the Secretary of Education, so states don’t have to ask, “Mother May I,” when they want to make changes to do what is best for their students and increases expectations that states will hold themselves accountable for student achievement.”

“At a time when many families are struggling to find good paying jobs and many companies are struggling to find skilled workers, I am proud to work with Senators Casey, Alexander, and Enzi to reauthorize an important law that will help our country compete in a 21st century economy,” Murray said. “I am very glad that we were able to push aside partisanship and work together to invest in students and workers, help them get the skills and training they need to get better jobs and higher wages, and include accountability measures to help improve programs and help ensure that students and workers aren’t falling through the cracks.”


The first reauthorization of the Perkins CTE Act since 2006, this legislation would encourage states, schools and local CTE providers to update education and job training to meet the needs of the local economies, ensuring students have the skills needed to remain competitive. It would also increase alignment with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and promote collaboration between stakeholders so that local businesses can communicate their needs to states and educators as strategies and programs are developed.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with nearly 500 businesses and organizations from the National Association of Manufacturers, have voiced their support for bipartisan reauthorization of the Perkins CTE Act.