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Education and Job Training Highlighted in State of the Union


January 29, 2014


Education and Job Training Highlighted in State of the Union

Last night, President Obama delivered the annual State of the Union address before Congress. He put forward a broad policy agenda that included efforts on skills training, manufacturing and education. The president applauded the 2014 budget agreement that rolled back much of the 2013 sequester cut and paved the way for an increase in Perkins funding in the recent omnibus appropriations bill. “Last month, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, this Congress finally produced a budget that undoes some of last year’s severe cuts to priorities like education.  Nobody got everything they wanted, and we can still do more to invest in this country’s future while bringing down our deficit in a balanced way,” said Obama. Federal funding for CTE is one of those important investments in our nation’s future, and we urge the president and Congress to make Perkins funding a priority in 2014.   

The president pledged to make this a “year of action” and highlighted initiatives that his Administration will take that will not require congressional action. He announced the expansion of the existing manufacturing innovation institutes program that focuses on bringing together regional partnerships of businesses, postsecondary institutions and governments to co-invest in the development of manufacturing technologies and capabilities. His goal is to launch six new regional manufacturing institutes this year in addition to the pilot programs established in Youngstown, Ohio, and Raleigh, North Carolina. A government-wide review of federal job training programs led by Vice President Joe Biden was also proposed.

In his address, the president specifically referenced on-the-job training, apprenticeships, and connecting business and industry with career education and training providers. To help achieve these goals, Congress and the Administration must work toward a comprehensive reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) with an emphasis on better aligning our nation’s workforce development system with skills training and education provided through CTE. In addition, more attention must be placed on proven program, like Perkins.

 “We are hopeful that he [the president], his administration and Congress will recognize and build upon support for existing federal policy in this ‘year of action’ to equitably benefit CTE students and educators nationwide, particularly through increases in funding available through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and a thoughtful reauthorization of that law,” said ACTE Executive Director LeAnn Wilson.

The Republican response was delivered by Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (WA), who currently serves as the chair of the House Republican Conference. Though she did not specifically address CTE, she alluded to recent legislative actions taken by the House, including bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and WIA, that address education and workforce policy. Said Rodgers, “We [House Republicans] have plans to improve our education and training systems so that you have the choice to determine where your kids go to school, so college is affordable and skill training is modernized.” 

On Thursday, President Obama will travel to McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee, as part of a two-day tour to promote his State of the Union agenda. He will tour McGavock High’s nationally recognized career academies. 

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