As Congress wound down its business for 2016, construction and supplier groups such as ASA wrote to House leaders to turn their attention to workforce development.

Specifically, the groups called on Congress to pass the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (HR 5587) — bipartisan legislation that reforms, modernizes and reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Act. By restoring near-term certainty to federal transportation programs and tax policy through passage of the FAST and PATH acts in late 2015, Congress has set the stage for growth in construction, manufacturing and business purchasing. 

However, as companies prepare to take advantage of new opportunities, they are confronted with a new challenge: a shortage of skilled technical workers. Enacting H.R. 5587 and reinforcing CTE programs, educators and their partners in the business community can improve student outcomes and provide the skills required to be successful in the workforce (or continuing education). H.R. 5587 focuses on areas where improvements can be made to current law, building upon past successes and enhancing aspects of the long-overdue-for-reauthorization Carl D. Perkins Act in order to better serve both workers and employers.

If passed, the legislation would align CTE programs to the needs of the regional, state and local labor markets. It would support effective and meaningful collaboration between secondary and postsecondary institutions and employers. It would increase student participation in work-based learning opportunities, while promoting the use of industry-recognized credentials and other recognized post-secondary credentials. These improvements will more effectively spend federal dollars to help our nation’s students acquire the skills they need and employers in our industry are demanding.