Across Rhode Island, I continue to hear from employers who cannot find workers with the skills needed to fill open jobs in manufacturing, information technology, and other skilled trades. As co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, strengthening our workforce and closing this skills gap is a top priority of mine. I am working in Congress to support investment in CTE, which equips students with the tools they need to succeed in high-growth, high-skill fields. CTE is an investment in the future of our workforce and our economy, and I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support.
This bill will go a long way toward improving and expanding CTE programs in Rhode Island and across the country. By reauthorizing and revising Carl D. Perkins Act programs, it will align CTE programs with industry needs, improve collaboration among community stakeholders, promote work-based learning, and support career counselors.
The Ocean State has several exemplary CTE programs that served more than 14,000 high school students in the 2014-2015 school year – 95 percent of whom graduated. These programs also served more than 1,800 CTE postsecondary students – 76 percent of whom earned a credential, certificate or degree. The Community College of Rhode Island’s Chemical Technology program, for example, has a nearly 100 percent placement rate at local businesses. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act will empower CTE programs throughout the state and country to build on these successes and expand innovative learning opportunities.
I hope the Senate will move swiftly to take up this bill in order to prepare our workforce to meet the evolving demands of employers and thrive in the 21st Century economy.
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