Weekly Update: I Support Our Children’s Future
By Congressman Rob Wittman
October 27, 2018
Strengthening America’s education system is important in fostering innovation and promoting our economic security. This week, I held two Career and Technical Education (CTE) Symposiums in two areas in the district. The first took place on Monday at Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg and the second one in Hanover at American Legion Post 175. I’ve held these symposiums in order 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.
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 skillsets needed in today’s workforce and connect students with good-paying jobs. We must be preparing our young people and provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge to compete in a global economy.
These symposiums are a great way for students to see what opportunities are available to them after high school. Not all students are on the path to a four-year college degree. By 2020, demand for STEM jobs will be higher than any other occupational focus including healthcare and service industry, with an estimated 9 million jobs. Almost of 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 background.
I have made it my mission to meet with all of the CTE programs in the First District and we have a had a lot of success. In May, I held my first symposium at the University of Mary Washington’s Stafford campus, 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.
Congress has been working hard to bring even more, real change to our students. I was proud to support 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.
Last year, my 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 the President. 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.
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 always continue working for what is right for our young people.