Today, the White House proposed a $900 million increase in the federal funding for Career Technical Education (CTE), a substantial and much-needed increase to a chronically underfunded federal program that provides learners with a path to living-wage, in-demand careers. Advance CTE and its members are thankful that the budget proposal demonstrates a commitment to ensuring each learner across the country has access to a high-quality CTE program, while also filling the skills gap in leading industries including information technology, manufacturing, healthcare and energy.
While Advance CTE is thankful for this increase, it is disappointing to see that overall education funding reduced so significantly. CTE aligns with and leverages other education, workforce and social services programs. Consolidation and cuts to those programs means the loss of critical, complementary supports needed to ensure each learner can be successful in their education and career pathway.
This proposed increase to Perkins is long overdue. Last year, Advance CTE, at the direction of its Board of Directors, called for a doubling of the federal investment in CTE. Between 2004 and 2017, the federal investment has declined by over $77 million dollars. The investment in Perkins was relatively flat between 1991 and 2017, and its buying power has fallen by approximately $933 million in inflation-adjusted dollars, a 45 percent reduction over a quarter century.
Ninety percent of Americans agree that apprenticeships and skills training programs prepare students for a good standard of living. Nearly 60 percent of companies say they can’t job openings due to lack of skilled talent. At the same time, school districts offering CTE found that the top barrier to offering CTE in high school was insufficient funding, coupled with the high cost of programs. The proposed increase for Perkins funding is a commitment to living-wage careers for each American and creating a pipeline of qualified employees for companies.
“Last year, Advance CTE’s Board called for a doubling of the federal investment in Career Technical Education. We are thrilled that today’s budget announcement makes great progress toward achieving that goal and recognizes that CTE is a meaningful and high-quality pathway for students across the country,” said Sarah Heath, Advance CTE President and Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Colorado Community College System. “This increase demonstrates a commitment to providing the best CTE possible to every student in the nation.”
“Advance CTE and its members are grateful for this significantly increased investment to support high-quality Career Technical Education,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director of Advance CTE. “CTE partners with many federal programs to ensure the success of each learner, and we believe that the budget must ensure robust support for the entire continuum of education and workforce programs. This additional funding will go a long way in helping to ensure that every learner in America – no matter their age, zip code or background – has access to high-quality CTE that leads to a fulfilling career and ensures a family-sustaining wage.”