Bennet, Hatch Introduce Bill to Support Innovative Career and Technical Education

Creates Grant Program to Support Innovative Ideas to Improve CTE

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) issued the following statements after introducing the Innovation for Tomorrow's Workforce Act of 2016. The bill follows another Bennet-Hatch bill which encourages schools to expand dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities for students in career and technical education courses.

"High quality career and technical education programs can provide important access to the knowledge and skills needed for job and career success for students across Colorado," Bennet said. "At a time when a great education has never been more important, we must create opportunities for those on the ground to innovate and create new approaches to providing key workforce skills. In addition to creating a fund for innovation, this bill will help encourage states and communities to engage in pay for success initiatives. It also promotes vital work-based learning opportunities and apprenticeships, which can be effective pathways to successful careers and well-paying jobs."

"Last year we enacted a valuable education overhaul that is beginning to address shortcomings of No Child Left Behind, especially the needs of Utah's transformative education system," Hatch said. "This new legislation will supplement those efforts by providing resources to encourage and support better pathways from the classroom to the workplace. Utah companies are eager to improve STEM education in our schools to prepare students to work in our ever-changing workforce and global economy. This bill is the product of discussions with many Utah stakeholders to ensure that we build on Utah's successes by allowing funds to be used for Pay for Success initiatives and to bolster students' success by making free, high-quality Open Education Resources more accessible."


The Innovation for Tomorrow's Workforce Act of 2016 would amend current law to create a grant program to identify and support innovative activities to improve career and technical education (CTE) and to align workforce skills with labor market needs. Priority in awarding grants would be given to entities that predominantly serve students in low-income families, and entities receiving funds must provide for an independent evaluation of the activities carried out using the grant. The innovation fund may be used flexibly to strengthen ongoing state efforts in career and technical areas, including: improving teacher effectiveness, integrating STEM and computer science into CTE, increasing work-based learning opportunities, and supporting employment outcomes for students.

This grant is similar to The Education Innovation and Research, which was included in the Every Student Succeeds Act thanks to Senator Bennet's and Senator Hatch's efforts. The House passed a similar version of this fund on the floor and the Senators added in pay for success (PFS) and open education resource (OER) programs as allowable local and state uses of CTE funds to support states' priorities. To support efforts to further develop apprenticeship opportunities, the Senators added language in the state leadership and local use sections to provide or support work-based learning opportunities as a permissible use of funds.