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Promoting career, technical education a key to future: Tom Mehaffie

Posted 5/2/18

Career and technical education and the workforce skills gap are taking center stage in national policy discussions. In Pennsylvania, we’ve been talking about this issue for years and seeking …

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Promoting career, technical education a key to future: Tom Mehaffie

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Career and technical education and the workforce skills gap are taking center stage in national policy discussions. In Pennsylvania, we’ve been talking about this issue for years and seeking input from employers, industry leaders, educators and economic experts about the best way to move forward.

This week, the House is poised to take action to promote career and technical education with a nine-bill bipartisan package seeking to improve CTE opportunities and enhance science, technology, engineering and math curriculum.

The package includes measures to promote public-private partnerships; remove barriers for career and technical educators; expand awareness of training opportunities and future wage-earning potential; increase flexibility for innovative secondary career and technical programs; enhance and promote articulation agreements; develop and maintain a comprehensive online career resource center; coordinate state-level career exploration and workforce development opportunities; improve local and occupational advisory committees; and add teachers to the membership of the Workforce Development Board.

To grow our economy, we must have a diversified workforce. That means helping interested students obtain training at career and technical schools and breaking down negative stigmas associated with trade occupations.

While attending a four-year college is the right fit for some students, it’s not for others. That’s OK, because we need skilled workers. The job demand is there for students who want to pursue technical degrees, and we have programs and schools in this state to train them. The goal is to connect those students with available opportunities and bridge the skills gap with quality training tailored to the jobs of today and tomorrow.

We are fortunate to have Dauphin County Technical School in our region. DCTS serves students from throughout the 106th District and beyond who are interested in a broad range of CTE programs. At the beginning of my term, I had the pleasure of touring the school, meeting with students, administrators and teachers, and seeing the learning in action. I was so impressed with DCTS’s mission and programs that I agreed to serve on its Local Advisory Committee. I look forward to working with committee members to ensure we always have excellent career and technical opportunities available for our local youth.

I also had the chance to attend the SkillsUSA Pennsylvania State Conference in Lebanon. More than 1,000 of the best CTE students in the state competed in their programs of study. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to watch young people, including several from our area, using their learned skills and abilities in such a unique competition.

As a strong advocate for CTE, all of these experiences have further motivated me to push for improvements and partnerships that will strengthen opportunities for students. The future of our local, state and national economies depend on having highly qualified, job-ready workers, and I’m proud to support the latest CTE efforts in the House.

State Rep. Tom Mehaffie, R-Lower Swatara Township, represents the 106th House District. Reach him at 717-534-1323 or tmehaffie@pahousegop.com.