Last week the National Skills Coalition launched Voices for Skills, a campaign to raise the voices of working people to educate policymakers and candidates running for office in 2020
about how critical skills training is to 21st century jobs. The campaign collectively amplifies the voices of working
people, students, teachers and business leaders by calling for a national commitment to significantly increase the investment in skills training. During the launch, personal stories were shared by those who have completed a skills training program, including:
- Alicia Waide, a teacher of over 16 years and now a graduate of Catalyte’s software engineering program. Alicia spoke to the audience about the opportunity Catalyte provided her to continue growing her skillset and represent her former students in diverse career pathways.
- Mike Mckeague, a current Superintendent at Holder Construction with aspirations to become a regional superintendent. Mike started off in Holder’s in-house training program as a lineman and was successfully
promoted numerous times while with the company.
- Jeffrey Bond, a support specialist at Philadelphia FIGHT who works with groups of low-income individuals. Jeff recalled his time in the unemployment line before encountering the opportunity to further his experience and transition back into the workforce. He’s since become a passionate advocate for skills training as he believes it is a “mandatory must” that policymakers prioritize these investments to benefit communities across America.
Voices for Skills also presented a discussion between representatives from both sides of the aisle in Michigan – a state that is expected to be highly contested in the 2020 election – on why they continue to be leading champions for skills policy in Congress. Representatives Andy Levin (D-MI) and Paul Mitchell (R-MI) reiterated their commitment to skills training to meet the needs of a 21st century economy, and called upon members of the community (such as businesses, advocacy groups and teachers) to further educate, collaborate and communicate the importance of skills education. Both members also stressed that talks around infrastructure development should increasingly highlight a workforce development component, with congressman Mitchell pointing to his BUILDS ACT — which Advance CTE supports — as a needed step in the right direction.
Jade Richards, Policy Fellow