Bennet Work to Advance Career and Technical Education Sees Bipartisan Breakthrough

Years of work result in HELP Committee passage of bipartisan legislation to close skills gap

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet helped pass legislation to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act would make important, necessary updates to career and technical education to give workers and students the skills they need to find high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand jobs. It also would give businesses the ability to find the talent they need to compete in a changing 21st century economy.

“In the face of a rapidly changing workforce, we must do everything we can to ensure students are equipped with the skills to succeed in a global economy,” Bennet said. “Reauthorizing Perkins CTE represents a critical step in modernizing our career and technical education system and preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow.” 

Bennet secured several priorities in the legislation, including provisions from his Innovation for Tomorrow’s Workforce Act that creates a grant program to identify and support innovative efforts to improve CTE, and from his Workforce Advance Act that supports the use of concurrent and dual enrollment programs, which have been widely adopted in Colorado. The bill also supports Bennet-led Pay for Success initiatives, which reward effective programs.

The first reauthorization of the Perkins CTE Act since 2006, this legislation would encourage states, schools, and local CTE providers to update education and job training to meet the needs of the local economies, ensuring students have the skills needed to remain competitive. It also would increase alignment with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and promote collaboration between stakeholders so that local businesses can communicate their needs to states and educators as strategies and programs are developed.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with nearly 500 businesses and organizations from the National Association of Manufacturers+, have voiced their support for bipartisan reauthorization of the Perkins CTE Act.