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House of Representatives Holds First Education and Workforce Hearing of New Congress

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February 6, 2013

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House of Representatives Holds First Education and Workforce Hearing of New Congress

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce held the biennial first hearing of the new Congress yesterday. Titled “Challenges and Opportunities Facing America’s Schools and Workplaces,” the hearing was a general overview of the status of education and the workforce today, and where the committee should be focusing its efforts going forward. Members of the committee also used the time to stake out their positions for this legislative session.

The hearing witnesses provided testimony on the current status of education and workforce training around the country, as well as the effect they have on employers and the U.S. economy. Witnesses for the hearing included:

  • Governor Gary Herbert of Utah
  • Virginia Secretary of Education Laura Fornas
  • Dr. Jared Bernstein,  Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Mr. Jay Timmons, President, National Association of Manufacturers

Topics brought up by committee members during the hearing ranged from job training and education to the federal deficit and worker pay. Though the topics and concerns varied from representative to representative, there was one concern that resonated from both Republicans and Democrats; the skills gap facing employers and workers and the current workforce and education system that is trying to fill it.

Leading the charge for career and technical education’s (CTE) role in filling the skills gap was Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA). Mr. Thompson pressed the hearing’s witnesses to discuss their recommendations for using CTE to fill the needs of employers. Following him, Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), a former senior vice president for Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, emphasized the important role that community and technical college play in providing skill training programs for in-demand jobs and industries.  Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) noted during the hearing that she is working on legislation to help and encourage business and industry to partner with training programs.

The committee has made available the video from the hearing on its Web site. It has also included the opening remarks by Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and the expanded witness testimony.

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