Bipartisan Effort Leads to Package of Career & Technical Education Legislation

Kristi Pronovost Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

By: Brent Sailhamer, Director of Government Affairs 

With career and technical education a consistent focus at both the federal and state levels in response to a growing workforce shortage, a group of Republican and Democrat legislators are working together to improve Pennsylvania’s response to an increased demand for employees.

House members from both sides of the aisle recently announced plans to introduce legislation that deals with a variety of shortcomings in Pennsylvania’s career & technical education (CTE) system, from providing appropriate funding to coordinating efforts between the Department of Education and the Department of Labor & Industry.  The package follows on the heels of increased efforts by the U.S. Department of Labor and President Trump to encourage participation in apprenticeship across the nation.  At the state level, Governor Tom Wolf’s programs that offer funding for apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs across the Commonwealth recently distributed $3.5 million to efforts throughout Pennsylvania.

House Bill 2166, introduced by Rep. Austin Davis (D-Allegheny), would continue that trend by providing $15 million to career and technical programs administered by the Department of Education, addressing concerns that CTE efforts have been woefully underfunded at the post-secondary level.  In addition, the bill would provide $8 million for improved career counseling programs, which have been strongly enforced through the development of Chapter 339, part of Pennsylvania’s School Code that mandates career counseling for all students.

House Bill 2204, introduced by Rep. Jerry Mullery (D-Luzerne), would establish a clearinghouse of career & technical programs throughout the Commonwealth, allowing for improved information-sharing between secondary institutions, postsecondary institutions, and private industry.

Finally, Rep. Mike Tobash, who serves as the prime sponsor of House Bill 1066, which would codify equal access to apprenticeship ratios, has circulated a cosponsorship memo for legislation to establish a Career and Technical Partnership Tax Credit Program, incentivizing businesses to participate in approved CTE programs.

While the fate of this package remains unclear, it certainly demonstrates a strong, bipartisan effort to resolve some deficiencies in Pennsylvania’s workforce development system.

April 4, 2018