House Passes Perkins Reauthorization to Strengthen Career and Technical Education

July 25, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C.­– Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-16) to strengthen and improve career and technical education in order help Americans obtain the skills they need to compete in-demand jobs. Passage of this bill has been a leading priority for Rep. Smucker.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21stCentury Actpassed both the House and Senate this week with unanimous, bipartisan support. As an original cosponsor of the bill, Rep. Smucker worked with his colleagues on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to get it approved by the committee and the full House. Thelegislationfirst passed the House on June 22, 2017. Career and technical education leaders in the House, including Rep. Smucker, gathered for a news conferenceat that time to discuss the effort and to urge the Senate to take action.

“This bill will reform our career and technical education system and strengthen existing programs in our district,” said Rep. Smucker. “Right now, there are jobs available all across Pennsylvania and the nation, but there aren’t enough trained workers. This bill will help businesses and schools partner to prepare students for jobs in today’s in-demand industries. 

“So many people in this country are ready to learn and eager to work. But we need to accommodate the needs of many different types of students, like Steve Nunemaker from Ephrata. At the age of 47, Steve graduated from Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology with a degree in engineering computer-aided drafting. CTE programs are vital to training workers like Steve for new careers, and the jobs that are available are good-paying, family-sustaining jobs.  This legislation will go a long way toward improving those programs, and I look forward to the president signing it into law.”

“Passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Actis critical to America’s competitiveness,” said Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology President William E. Griscom. “In a global marketplace the only sustainable competitive advantage a company has is the innovativeness, creativity and productivity of its workforce. American companies are being forced to compete against companies without a full team. This Act will provide the resources to better align our human resources with the needs of our economy.”

“One of our best assets in realizing the American Idea is having an education system that helps people reach their potential and fulfill their aspirations,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan.“That’s why this bill is so important. It is a complete overhaul of our country’s career and technical education system. In this economy, with millions of open jobs, there is no reason Americans seeking employment should lack the training to find it. This will help more people acquire the right skills to fill a good-paying job.”

“We have more than six million unfilled jobs in this country, due in large part to the skills gap,” said Education and the Workforce Chairwoman Virginia Foxx. “The skills gap is partly the result of an outdated approach to workforce development. H.R. 2353 supports innovative learning opportunities and strong community partnerships, addressing the problem of vacant jobs and workforce development needs where they exist: at the local level.”

The LNP Editorial Board wrote about this legislationin May of last year, saying:

“Speaking at his school’s commencement earlier this month, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology President William E. Griscom said 1,152 companies came to campus this year to recruit 415 graduates – the largest class in Stevens history – for 2,552 jobs. These students, who make $50,000 to $60,000 a year upon graduating, are ‘just desperately needed,’ Griscom said.”

“It’s good to know that on this issue, Republican and Democratic members of the House are collaborating and doing the people’s business – even with everything else that’s been going on in the nation’s capital.”


The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act provides federal support to state and local career and technical education (CTE) programs. Building on recent reforms to K-12 education and the workforce development system, Reps. Thompson and Krishnamoorthi — along with Reps. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), James Langevin (D-RI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), and Rick Nolan (D-MN) — introduced this proposal. The bipartisan legislation will improve current CTE policies to help more Americans gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the workforce. Specifically, the legislation will:

  • Deliver states more flexibilityto use federal resources in response to changing education and economic needs.
  • Ensure career and technical education prepares all students, including historically disadvantaged and vulnerable students, for success in high-skill, high-wage occupations and careers in nontraditional fields.
  • Improve alignment with in-demand jobsby supporting innovative learning opportunities, building better community partnerships, and encouraging stronger engagement with employers.
  • Enhance career and technical educationthrough increased focus on employability skills, work-based learning opportunities, and meaningful credentialing so students are prepared to enter the workforce poised for success.
  • Streamline performance measuresto ensure career and technical education programs deliver results for students and taxpayers.
  • Reduce administrative burdensand simplify the process for states to apply for federal resources.
  • Reward success and innovationby directing federal resources to replicate promising practices that best serve students and employers.
  • Provide parents, students, and stakeholders a voicein setting performance goals and evaluating the effectiveness of state and local programs.
  • Empower state and local leadersto develop plans that improve the quality of career and technical education and take into account unique ‎local and state needs.

For summaries of the legislation, please visit the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s website here.