Rob Wittman highlights efforts to bridge the skills gap

Rob WittmanOver the past two weeks, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) has held two Career and Technical Education (CTE) Symposiums.

The first took place last week at the Northern Neck Technical Center in Warsaw and the second today in Manassas at the Kelly Leadership Center. The purpose of these symposiums is to connect education institutions with local businesses and the private sector, and to help ensure the curriculum for our students reflects the needs of the workforce.

“Strengthening America’s education system is important in fostering innovation and promoting our economic security,” said Wittman. “Currently, businesses across America are facing a severe talent shortage due to a lack of vocational education and technical training. One of my top priorities is promoting CTE and STEM programs as a way to cultivate skill sets needed in today’s workforce and connect students with good-paying jobs. We must better prepare our students and provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge to compete in a global economy.”

Over the past year, Congressman Wittman has held five symposiums across the Frist District, where, again, teachers, businesses, students, and education officials came together to discuss partnership opportunities and ways Congress can help our students cultivate tangible skill sets. With students facing record education-related debt averaging $37,000, and less than 30 percent of college graduates working in jobs related to their major, CTE offers a great alternative.

“These symposiums are a great way for students to see what opportunities are available to them after high school,” said Wittman. “For many students, a traditional four-year path simply doesn’t work. By 2020, demand for STEM jobs will be higher than any other occupational focus including healthcare and the service industry, with an estimated 9 million jobs. Almost half of these jobs will require less than a four-year degree, paying an average of 15% more than non-STEM related jobs to people with similar academic backgrounds. It is our responsibility to prepare students for the demands of our current society and to provide unemployed Americans with an outlet to reintegrate into the workforce. I will continue working for what is right for our students.”

Last Congress, Congressman Wittman supported the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which is now signed into law. The Perkins CTE program controls over $1 billion in grants for federal, state, and local CTE programs. The reforms include expanding access to CTE programs, helping schools create partnerships with the business community so students can cultivate skills in demand by the labor market, improving and modernizing schools’ CTE programs, and giving states and localities more control over how to spend CTE dollars.

In addition, in 2017 Congressman Wittman’s legislation, the Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act, passed the House as part of the National Defense Authorization Act and was signed into law by President Trump. This bill advances the capabilities of two-year community and technical colleges to assist the federal government and industry in securing the talent pipeline for domestic maritime industry jobs. This bill not only helps promote participation in STEM and CTE, but will create a talent pipeline for our shipbuilders and repairmen in order to sustain and grow our Navy’s Fleet.

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