House passes tech-focused skills training legislation

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Lawmakers in the House on Wednesday passed a bill aimed at bolstering skills training for technical jobs in various industries.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act unanimously passed the House on Wednesday afternoon after passing the Senate on Monday. It is now headed to President Trump’s desk.

The bill, introduced by Reps. G.T. Thompson (R-Pa.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), increases federal funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Program by up to $1.3 billion annually. The bill’s authors said the legislation looks to close a skills gap by helping post-secondary students receive on-the-job training in fields short on skilled workers like manufacturing, health care and cybersecurity.

The Perkins act was last overhauled in 2006. At the time, changes shifted the focus of the act from “vocational training” to “career and technical education.”


Some technology companies and researchers say action is needed to address a gap between available technical jobs and workers with the skills necessary to fill those roles.  Lawmakers agree.

“[The bill does] Three things, it increases funding so more students can participate. Two, it shifts the authority to local states and community colleges and high schools, because they know the local labor conditions,” Krishnamoorthi told The Hill. “And then three, it would make sure that employers are at the table when to validate the skills that are taught. So that’s really huge — it hasn’t been reauthorized in 12 years.”

The new version of the bill aims to bring the act into the modern economy and better adjust it to the needs of state and local economies.
Krishnamoorthi said the bill could be signed as soon as next week, noting first daughter Ivanka Trump has supported the measure.
IBM, which has aggressively pushed for the reauthorization, praised the bill’s passage on Wednesday.

“This is a critically important moment for students across the United States. When they head back to school this fall, they’ll be met by career and technical education programs that focus on in-demand skills and put them on track for successful careers,” IBM’s corporate citizenship vice president Jennifer Ryan Crozier said in a statement.

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