On February 10th, employer panelists from five corporate perspectives, small business to multi-national, briefed congressional staff on how they are connecting with workforce training and CTE programs in their community. The briefing, co-sponsored by the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus and in cooperation with the Association for Career and Technical Education, the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition, and Opportunity America, provided attendees, including CEC, with the opportunity to hear what strategies can bring more employers to the table, and how a reauthorized Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act can help to strengthen connections between employers and educators. This is particularly timely as the beginning efforts for reauthorization are in the legislative pipeline and CEC will be suggesting provisions that focus on students with disabilities.
Remarks from the panel, as well as by sponsoring Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), illuminated the continuing need for education to prepare youth with skills needed for the ever-burgeoning “middle skill” jobs in industry that require a high school but not a college degree. In addition, they advised K-12 educators to start in the early to middle grades to provide students with opportunities to see vocational options and develop of work readiness “soft skills”, as well as engage themselves in ongoing professional development to strengthen employer-educator partnerships.