Bill to Update Career and Technical Education Programs Introduced in the House

At CompTIA, our north star is workforce development.  From our IT certifications to our workforce policy efforts in Washington D.C., and in state capitals around the country, it is in CompTIA’s DNA to upskill workers to create economic prosperity, both at the kitchen table and economy-wide.  CompTIA is deeply engaged in arming students and workers with the skills today’s economy demands.  For instance, we support schools that are making STEM subjects the fundamental building blocks of their curriculum, mentorships that can give students the confidence to excel in IT careers, as well as job training and work-based learning programs.

And that’s why we’re excited to see a bipartisan group of Representatives introduce the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The bill would update the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (“Perkins Act”) to better reflect today’s workforce demands. Importantly, the bill would encourage stronger partnerships between educators and business leaders ensuring career and technical education curriculum is closely aligned with local and regional workforce needs. In addition, it focuses on credentialing, a key avenue that enables students to transition from the classroom to the workplace.

The timing of the bill could not be more opportune. The last time the Perkins Act was updated (2006), cell phones weren’t yet smart, the app economy didn’t exist, and “the cloud” had a far different meaning than it does today. More alarming, according to our Cyberstates report, more than 600,000 IT jobs went unfilled in Q4 of 2016 – each representing immense untapped potential. In just over a decade, the IT landscape has experienced a tectonic shift, and unless lawmakers act fast to update our education system to reflect these changes, more and more students could be left behind, to say nothing of the job vacancies that will weigh on our economy.

Career and technical education can provide excellent hands-on, transferrable learning opportunities, so long as those opportunities are aligned with workforce needs. As Congress begins to turn its attention to the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, we hope members will keep in mind how integral their work will be to filling jobs and spurring growth. The legislation put forth by the bipartisan members of the House of Representatives would provide a desperately needed facelift to the Perkins Act. We at CompTIA stand ready to work with lawmakers on this important legislation, and are hopeful the bill sails through both chambers of Congress for the president’s signature.

To lend your organization’s name encouraging Congress act, join CompTIA in signing this letter.

Geoff Lane is CompTIA’s senior policy manager of government affairs.