House reauthorizes technical job skills training program

House reauthorizes technical job skills training program
© Greg Nash

The House on Thursday voted to reauthorize the Perkins Act, a law intended to bolster technical education for specialized job skills.

The Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which aims to beef up training in technical career areas that require specific training for employment, was last overhauled in 2006. At that time, changes shifted the focus of the act from “vocational training,” to “career and technical education.”

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Thursday's reauthorization includes changes aimed at better aligning students with the needs of regional, state and local labor markets, and would make states explain how their skills training would be tailored to their own labor needs to receive funding. 

The technology industry praised the reauthorization of the 1948 act, introduced by Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.).

“This bill is critical to equipping America’s students with the skills to succeed in promising New Collar careers,” said Stanley Litow, President Emeritus of the IBM Foundation. 

Skills based training has been a key issue for the technology company, with CEO Ginni Rometty championing creation of pathways for non-college degree holding members of workforce to work in technical fields. The company has pushed large PR campaigns in favor of such programs.

The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), a trade association representing major technology companies like Amazon, Oracle and Intel urged the House to approve the reauthorization ahead of the Thursday vote.

“Our companies are investing tens of millions of dollars on workforce training programs, but our efforts alone cannot meet the increasing demand,” ITI President Dean Garfield said. “That is why we support reauthorizing the Perkins Act and modernizing it so students can get the education and skills needed to pursue careers in high-demand industries and technical fields.” 

House passage comes one week after President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump cheers on Senate GOP ahead of 'skinny' ObamaCare repeal vote Live Coverage: Senate edges close to passing scaled-down ObamaCare repeal Pete King defends ‘unorthodox’ Scaramucci after attacks on Priebus MORE’s executive order to expand apprenticeship, a move technology companies in need of specialized workers also lauded.

The bill still needs to pass in the Senate before it hits the president’s desk. Despite bipartisan support and industry optimism, it’s unclear if it will gain the traction it needs in the upper chamber to be reauthorized this session.