Teach Actby Representative Alexander X. Mooney
Posted on 2016-01-06
MOONEY of West Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about
a growing problem in the United States: Employers across our country
have millions of job openings but are unable to find workers with the
skills needed to fill those jobs.
According to a recent study by CareerBuilder, nearly 50 percent of employers nationwide cannot find skilled workers to fill open positions. Many of these jobs are located in lucrative career fields like welding, emergency medical response, electrical engineering, robotics, and carpentry.
This gap between employers and our workers is holding our economy back; it is exacerbating our unemployment problem; it is hurting our communities; and it is placing unneeded pressure on our families.
The American economy needs qualified workers with the skills and drive necessary to fill these open jobs. I believe part of the answer to how we address this problem is career and technical education. Career and technical education, or CTE, is simply education that specializes in the skilled trades, applied sciences, information technology, and similar disciplines.
Career and technical education occurs in schools across America. In my home State of West Virginia, about 65,000 students each year participate in CTE courses. Those who do are much more likely to succeed. Over 80 percent of West Virginia participants meet industry- driven performance requirements for the technical skills they receive, and 95 percent go on to additional postsecondary education, the workforce, or the military.
I hear about CTE all the time as I travel across my district in West Virginia and visit schools and community colleges. I have seen the classrooms and the students whose eyes light up when they show off their work. I have spoken to the faculty and administrators who have committed their careers to training up a next generation workforce, and I know that just a little more support will make a huge difference.
While there is no silver bullet to our Nation's unemployment problem, additional investment in CTE is one way to help put people back to work and grow our economy.
The skills provided by CTE are some of the most highly sought-after skills in our economy today. But ironically enough, these are the hardest jobs to fill in the United States because of the lack of adequately trained individuals. According to a recent study by the Manufacturing Institute, over 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled in the next decade because of the skills gap.
I believe we can help. That is why I joined with seven of my colleagues to introduce H.R. 4263, the TEACH Act, also known as the Technical Education and Career Help Act.
My bipartisan bill will invest in our CTE programs by providing new resources for the technical education teachers without authorizing any new spending. My bill will authorize the Higher Education Act's teacher residency grant program to be used to help schools recruit and train high-quality CTE teachers. This is currently not allowed.
My bill will increase the quality of training that students receive by recruiting midcareer professionals in relevant technical fields. Having teachers with real work experience in the fields that they teach will ensure students receive the best training.
I would like to thank Congresswoman Katherine Clark for cosponsoring this bipartisan bill with me, along with Representatives Rod Blum, Bruce Poliquin, Tom MacArthur, Jim Langevin, Pete Aguilar, and Ami Bera.
Our bill has been endorsed by a broad group of experts, including the Alliance for Excellent Education, the American Federation of Teachers, the Association for Career and Technical Education, and the Future Farmers of America.
My bill is an example that Republicans and Democrats can work together. My bill will help provide new hope to our communities by equipping hardworking West Virginians and all Americans with skills they can actually use.
We need to invest in career and technical education now or we will miss out on this important opportunity. I encourage my colleagues in the House to support the TEACH Act and consider the important difference it would make across our great country.