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Upton leads bipartisan support for funding middle-skills adult education

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) today led a bipartisan letter with U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) urging the Appropriations Committee to include report language that emphasizes the importance of using Career and Technical Education (CTE) funding in post-secondary programs to teach the skills and knowledge required for “middle-skill jobs.”

Middle-skill jobs are defined as specific jobs or fields of work that require education or training beyond a high school diploma, but do not require a baccalaureate degree.

The letter was signed by 12 members of Congress.

“According to the National Skills Coalition (NSC), middle-skill jobs comprise the largest component of America’s labor market. However, we must do more to train workers to fill these jobs, especially in key industries,” the lawmakers wrote. “CTE funding is an ideal vehicle for teaching these skills.”

Middle-skill jobs are often found in growing industries like healthcare, medical technology, IT and software, and advanced manufacturing. According to the a recent analysis by the NSC, 52 percent of jobs require education and training that fall between a high school diploma and a four-year college degree. But only 43 percent of workers have access to the skills training needed to fill those jobs.

The full letter can be read below or HERE:

Dear Chairwoman DeLauro and Ranking Member Cole:

As you consider the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill, we respectfully request that you include report language that emphasizes the importance of utilizing Career and Technical Education (CTE) funding in post-secondary programs to teach the skills and knowledge required for “middle-skill jobs”—defined as specific jobs or fields of work that require education or training beyond a high school diploma, but do not require a baccalaureate degree.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis it has caused, millions of American workers have been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic. In addition to these immediate costs, the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the American economy. To come out of this pandemic stronger than before, we must focus on both improving our nation’s workforce development programs and increasing access to critical opportunities aligned with the needs of our communities.

According to the National Skills Coalition, middle-skill jobs comprise the largest component of America’s labor market. However, we must do more to train workers to fill these jobs, especially in key industries. CTE funding is an ideal vehicle for teaching these skills.

As CTE programs evolve to meet the needs of employers in high-wage, high-skill, and in-demand career fields, this funding should also be utilized for high-quality workforce training and credentialing programs at the post-secondary, sub-baccalaureate level. American workers who wish to attain the skills needed for the 21st century economy should have the opportunity to do so—to the benefit of both those individual workers and the industries that need them.

Accordingly, we encourage you to include the following language in the report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2022 Labor, HHS and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill:

National Leadership Activities.—Within the total of national leadership funds under adult education, the Committee encourages the provision of technical assistance to states to foster and scale Integrated Education and Training (IET) models by ensuring  collaboration with Career and Technical Education providers. IET is a service approach that provides adult education and literacy activities concurrently and contextually with workforce preparation for a specific occupation or occupational cluster for the purpose of educational and career advancement (Final WIOA regulations at 34 CFR §463.35).

Improved Coordination between Career and Technical Education and Adult Education.— To ensure that individuals can succeed in today’s economy, the Committee encourages the Department to identify and pursue opportunities to better align the postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) system with the adult education system. Adult education can be an effective on-ramp to postsecondary CTE and – as noted above – a valuable partner in designing and implementing IET models that blend basic skills instruction and occupational training to expand equitable access to skills training, high-quality credentials and family-supporting careers.

As we work to develop additional opportunities for training of middle-skill workers, CTE funding presents an important, existing tool that has historically been underutilized for these purposes, and we respectfully urge the committee to consider including language emphasizing the need for greater coordination between the CTE program and adult education programs. We look forward to continuing to work with you to invest workforce development at the post-secondary level.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

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