Obama Administration to Reauthorize Career and Technical Education Act

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has visited the Des Moines Area Community College in Arkeny, Iowa to release the Obama administration’s blueprint for providing high quality job training opportunities, with a focus on reducing skill shortages, spurring business growth and encouraging new investment and economic growth. Duncan considers these initiatives vital to aiding recovery from the economic depression. Last year, 60% of new jobs went to people with a bachelor’s degree. Over the next 10 years he estimates 66% of new jobs will require at least some degree of education beyond high school. However educational attainment rates are not currently keeping up with demand.

“In the knowledge-based economy, lifelong learning is so critical. And that means that the traditional mission of career and technical education has to change,” Secretary Duncan said. “It can no longer be about earning a diploma and landing a job after high school. The goal of CTE should be that students earn an industry certification and postsecondary certificate or degree — and land a job that leads to a successful career.”

They aim to transform Career and Technical Education by reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which introduced important changes in federal support. Although this Act helped improve the learning experiences of students, Duncan doesn’t believe it went far enough.

The Administration’s plan for reauthorizing the Act will transform the program in four areas: Alignment, which ensures that the CTE programs taught match the labor needs of the market; Collaboration, which incentivizes school and HE institutions to work with employers and industries to ensure CTE programs are the highest quality they can be; Accountability, which institutes common definitions and performance measures to allow CTE programs to demonstrate they are improving academic outcomes; Innovations, which promotes systematic reform to support implementation and innovation at the local level.

The Administration’s FY 2013 budget proposes an additional $1 billion to help 500,000 (a 50 percent increase) high school students participate in Career Academies, programs offered in high school that combine college curricula with a career emphasis, such as healthcare or engineering.