WASHINGTON — Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) applauds the House Education and the Workforce Committee on approving the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353).

The bill passed through committee unanimously.

Since 1984, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act has provided federal support to state and local career and technical education, or CTE, programs. These programs offer students the knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience necessary to compete for jobs in a broad range of fields, including HVACR.

Because federal law has not been updated in more than a decade, it no longer reflects the realities and challenges facing students and workers. Current policies restrict the ability of state leaders to invest federal resources in efforts that prioritize economic growth and local needs. This occurs at a time when critical industries have vacant jobs but not enough qualified workers to fill them.

“This bill is about ensuring all Americans can pursue multiple pathways to success,” said Virginia Foxx, chairwoman for the committee. “Career and technical education has long made a positive difference for students and communities, despite the false perception it’s somehow less valuable than a bachelor's degree. We must continue to improve the narrative about CTE, and just as importantly, we must update our CTE policies to reflect the realities of today’s economy. That’s why I am proud to support this legislation, which will increase transparency, improve accountability, and help prepare students for in-demand jobs. I am grateful for Representative [Glenn] Thompson’s longstanding leadership on this critical issue and look forward to continuing to advance this important bill.”

Specifically, Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act:

  • Empowers state and local community leaders by simplifying the application process for receiving federal funds and providing more flexibility to use federal resources to respond to changing education and economic needs;   
  • Improves alignment with in-demand jobs by supporting innovative learning opportunities, building better community partnerships, and encouraging stronger engagement with employers;   
  • Increases transparency and accountability by streamlining performance measures to ensure CTE programs deliver results, empowering parents, students, and stakeholders with a voice in setting performance goals and evaluating the effectiveness of local programs; and    
  • Ensures a limited federal role by reining in the Secretary of Education’s authority, limiting federal intervention, and preventing political favoritism.

“This legislation opens up more opportunities for young individuals entering the workforce to explore professions that best align with their strengths,” said HARDI Vice President of Government & External Affairs, Jon Melchi. “Nowadays, people are looking at different career paths right out of high school, and this bill would clear a path to the HVACR industry should they wish to pursue it.”

To read a fact sheet on the bill, click here.

To read a detailed bill summary, click here.

For more information, please contact Anthony Lagunzad at alagunzad@hardinet.org.

Publication date: 5/31/2017