More federal funding for career and technical education

U.S. president Donald Trump has signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act into law after it unanimously passed both houses of Congress.

Re-authorization of the legislation took 12 years — according to lead Democratic and Republican sponsors, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Glenn Thompson — including two years of “painstaking negotiations and compromise” in the House and Senate.

It authorizes USD 80 million more in yearly funding over six years for the roughly 13 million students participating in career and technical education and vocational programs at community colleges, high schools and technical campuses nationwide. The total allocation for such programs increases to more than  USD 1.3 billion annually by 2024.

Currently, 6.5 million jobs go unfilled because employers cannot find workers with the applicable skills, said Krishnamoorthi, who represents the 8th Congressional District that includes parts of Cook, DuPage and Kane counties.

“It fills the skills gap,” Krishnamoorthi said. “It’s going to help all the businesses out there looking for talented and skilled workers. A lot of authority for spending the money gets shifted from Washington to state and local (institutions), community colleges and high school districts because they know the local labor conditions.”

Funding to institutions is conditional upon educators working with local business and industry partners to design training programs for skills sought by employers. Providing high school and post-secondary students with on-the-job training in fields such as cyber-security, advanced manufacturing, and health care is also a focus of the Act.