A member of the Associated Builders and Contractors told members of Congress that the country needs to do more to support vocational education.

Paul Tse of the Rockville, Maryland-based Shapiro & Duncan Inc. testified Tuesday in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce.

“It is time that students, guidance counselors, educators, parents and the American public recognize the fulfilling and lucrative careers that can be achieved in construction and skilled trades,” Tse said in written testimony submitted to the committee. “We must all work to remove any stigma that exists that choosing a CTE (career technical education) program over a traditional four-year college is somehow ‘settling.’  Those four years I spent at Montgomery College and out in the field, I worked just as hard as students at colleges and universities.” 

Tse cited government statistics that said there will be 1.6 million more positions for skilled construction workers by 2022 than there will be people to fill them.

“Instead of pushing kids down the ‘traditional’ path of college-prep, we should be pushing kids to explore learning opportunities that prepare them for college and a career,” Tse said. “Whether the destination is an engineering degree from the University of Maryland or a journeyman’s license from the state of Maryland, high schoolers should have equal opportunities to prepare for either pathway.”