On Tuesday, July 31st, H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act was signed into law. This legislation reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins Act), and it was one of our priorities during the Washington Summit. As was reported last month in NUCA’s Political Insiders report, the Senate finally came to an agreement on this legislation, which allowed the bill to move forward.

Here is brief recap of the final version of this legislation and specifically highlight provisions that will benefit NUCA.

The Perkins Act is the main federal support for state and local CTE programs. These programs help prepare high school and community college students with the knowledge and hands-on experience necessary for jobs in a broad range of industries.

H.R. 2353 had enormous bipartisan support when it finally moved through Congress, with both the House and Senate passing the legislation by voice vote without any objection.

This legislation increases funding for CTE programs and makes numerous reforms to ensure that programs better serve the needs of students, employers, and local economies.  The changes in H.R. 2353 will place more responsibility on states to align their programs with local needs. The bill also encourages stronger engagement with employers by involving local business leaders in the development of CTE programs and goals. The legislation also reduces regulatory and paperwork burdens on states, while  proving a framework to guide states to set and meet strong performance standards.

Additionally, the final version of the bill changes current law to allow CTE funding to be used for programs as early as 5th grade. More specifically, H.R. 2353 actually requires funding recipients to include how they will provide career exploration for middle school students in their implementation plans. These provisions accomplish the same goals as the Middle STEP Act (addressed in a previous Political Insiders), which was ultimately not included in the final version of the bill. These are welcome changes that can help students gain exposure to our industry and work at an earlier age. During the Washington Summit and other conversations, NUCA members have consistently expressed their interest in reaching out to students and letting them know about the career-path opportunities that are available in our industry.

As the implementation of this law moves forward, please reach out to your local school districts if you are interested in getting involved with these programs. Also, please continue to keep our team at NUCA informed of your work with local educators and community colleges. This information is invaluable as we work with legislators and agencies to show the hard work that you are putting into these education efforts.