Langevin Pushes for Career & Technical Education Funding in Speech to National Leaders

Jun 16, 2011 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Education, Small Business

Following a summit that he helped organize this week in Rhode Island to improve workforce development in the state, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) advocated for the necessary federal resources to support programs that close the skills gap. Langevin, who co-chairs the Congressional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, spoke at a forum for national business, education and labor leaders organized by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) in Washington at Union Station’s Columbus Club.

Noting that many Rhode Island companies, particularly in high-tech fields, have told him students are not entering the job market with the ability to fill openings that exist, Langevin emphasized the importance of funding for the Perkins Act. These resources are allocated to help schools prepare students for jobs in high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand fields like engineering, information technology and healthcare.

“Perkins Act funding provides important support to high schools, career technical centers, and community and technical colleges for professional development, access to the latest technology and equipment, and integration of academic and technical education,” said Langevin. “Unfortunately, while demand for CTE has increased, funding for the Perkins Act has remained stagnant for almost ten years and was cut in Fiscal Year 2011.”

Langevin spoke about his effort with his fellow co-chair of the caucus, Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (R-PA), who also spoke at today’s event. They have worked together to build a bipartisan coalition of more than 50 of their colleagues to raise awareness of the serious consequences of funding cuts in this area. In a letter to members of the Appropriations Committee, the group has requested $1.27 billion in the Fiscal Year 2012 Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations bill, which would restore its funding to the level before this year’s cut.

Attendees at the National Leadership Forum included business executives from companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Xerox and Toyota, as well as representatives of business, labor and education organizations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, Associated General Contractors of America, the American Association of School Administrators and the National Urban League. In addition to addresses from Langevin and Thompson, panels and roundtable discussions focused on how federal policy can help close the skills gap and how state and local leaders can contribute to the effort. 

In his remarks, Langevin referenced the event he participated in earlier this week, the Rhode Island Pathways to Prosperity Summit in Warwick, where he spoke about engaging the business community in determining the needs of our education system and ensuring new workers have the skills to take advantage of job opportunities.

“In order to strengthen the pipeline for these jobs, we need to engage all of our schools, businesses, universities and other invested partners in a common goal,” said Langevin. “That is why this event today is so important.”