Advocating for Workforce Development Dollars

In an ongoing effort to address the skills gap and bring career and technical education (CTE) to more prominence in the national education discussion, The AED Foundation participated for the first time in the Association for Career & Technical Education’s (ACTE) National Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C., from March 4–7.

The seminar opened with an interactive workshop hosted by Mark Perna, founder and CEO of TFS (Tools for Schools). His informative presentation focused on changing the mindset about CTE and highlighted the need for students and their parents to be college and career ready. A key area of Perna’s presentation, and one that The AED Foundation will continue to focus on, is developing a competitive advantage. It’s clear that students who graduate from an AED Foundation accredited school have a competitive advantage that greatly improves their job prospects in the heavy equipment industry. Illustrating this to students, parents, educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders is critical in changing the stale industry stereotypes that are still pervasive.

ACTE leaders provided seminar attendees with a legislative update and an overview of their 2018 legislative priorities in advance of Capitol Hill visits to meet with members of Congress and their staff. Key priorities include increasing Perkins CTE Act Funding to $1.3 billion to restore recent cuts, ensuring that the Higher Education Act Reauthorization reflects today’s diverse postsecondary landscapes, and opposing efforts to consolidate the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE).
The AED Foundation delivered ACTE legislative priority materials to the congressional offices of Illinois Congressmen Randy Hultgren, Peter Roskam, Bill Foster, and Adam Kinzinger. Along with members of the Illinois ACTE team, The AED Foundation also met with key staffers from the offices of U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth to discuss the importance of CTE and the critical need to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act.

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act is the principal source of dedicated federal funding for CTE and helps build the capacity of secondary and postsecondary institutions to serve millions of students nationwide. The Perkins Basic State Grants are allocated to all 50 states through a formula grant, which is based largely on a state’s population and need, and are designed to help ensure all students have access to high-quality CTE.

In late March, ACTE and The AED Foundation received great news in Congress’s passage of the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which increases Perkins Basic State Grants by $75 million. This is the first increase in Perkins funding in many years.

“Congress’s appropriations package is a solid first step to rebuilding the investment in CTE,” said LeAnn Wilson, executive director of ACTE. “The additional funds will help ensure more students have access to CTE programs that prepare them for college and career success. New resources will help provide essential elements of high-quality programs, like professional development for teachers, workforce-based learning opportunities for students and industry-aligned equipment for classrooms. Throughout the economy, from the infrastructure sector to diverse industry areas like information technology, STEM, manufacturing, and healthcare, there are existing and predicted shortages in skilled workers. High-quality CTE bridges the skills gap by helping students succeed in high school, postsecondary education and careers. Adequate federal funding is necessary to ensure all students have access to these programs. We applaud Members of Congress for beginning to restore the cuts that have plagued CTE programs over the last decade, and encourage them to continue growing investments in CTE in FY 2019 and beyond.”

The AED Foundation plans to get more involved with ACTE and the Illinois Association for Career and Technical Education (IACTE) in 2018 and beyond as an affiliate member of the association. The Foundation also is actively exploring the opportunity to develop an industry-recognized apprenticeship through the Department of Labor.

“I have been advocating for CTE for many years at the state level and most recently at the regional level, and I welcome the opportunity to advocate at the national level,” said Cindy Stover, executive director of the Illinois ACTE (IACTE). “I’m glad The AED Foundation has taken a proactive approach in advocating for CTE, and I look forward to working collaboratively with their organization to build more awareness for CTE and continue to fight to protect Perkins funding.”  

“I believe that industry and education have to work together to address the skills gap and for both sectors to succeed,” added Jason Blake, senior vice president of The AED Foundation. 
ACTE is the largest national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for careers. More information about ACTE can be found at or by contacting The AED Foundation.

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