Wittman Holds First Meeting of First District Career and Technical Education Task Force
WOODBRIDGE – Last week, Congressman Rob Wittman hosted the inaugural meeting of his First Congressional District Career and Technical Education Task Force. He created this task force to address our regional issues in regards to better preparing students through Career and Technical Education (CTE) to meet the current and future needs of our workforce.
“Currently, businesses across America are facing a severe talent shortage due to a lack of vocational education and technical training,” said Wittman. “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. The purpose of the Career and Technical Education Task Force is to engage various stakeholders, including individuals and stakeholders from the education and business realms, to promote career and technical education and close the workforce gap in Virginia. We must better prepare our students and provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge to compete in a global economy.”
Congressman Wittman was joined by special guests: Scott Stump, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education; Dr. Megan Healy, Chief Workforce Development Advisor to Governor Northam; and Dr. Trey Davis, Manassas City Public Schools. The Task Force meeting featured two panels, one highlighting workforce development from the education perspective and one highlighting workforce development from the business perspective. The Business Panel members included: Dr. Dave Bowles, Director, NASA Langley; Zuzana Steen, Micron; Melissa Boyle, Lockheed Martin; and Suzanne Lewis, Prince William County Chamber of Commerce. The Education Panel members included Melanie Stover, Northern Virginia Community College; Dr. Chip Filer, Old Dominion University; and Dr. Bill Price, Virginia Tech.
Over the past year, Congressman Wittman has held five Career and Technical Education 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.
This week, Congressman Wittman introduced H.RES.551, a resolution emphasizing the importance of addressing participation in CTE. The resolution recognizes the role CTE plays in preparing students for entering the 21st century workforce and encourages educators, school officials, and parents to promote CTE as a respected career option for students.
This Congress, Congress Wittman introduced H.R. 625, the Professional Pell Education Learning Act, which would allow federal Pell Grants to be utilized at CTE programs. 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.