Earlier this week, Paul delivered a major address on tax reform at the National Association of Manufacturers Summit. Paul’s remarks and Q&A session focused on reforming the tax code for individuals, families, and businesses. In addition to discussing the significant regulatory reforms already passed by the House and the importance of reforming and simplifying our tax code, Paul mentioned the need to make our workforce more resilient by closing the skills gap.
Our economy has changed, and so too have the necessary skills to be effective in that economy. Industries vital to our economy—like manufacturing and health care—have vacant jobs to fill, but not enough qualified applicants to fill them. This is not due to a lack of willing applicants, but rather a lack of applicants who possess the right skills for the job.
Later today, the House will be voting on the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, a key piece of legislation in the Better Way agenda. Representative Thompson, sponsor of the legislation, said his bill will “[help] people get good-paying jobs. We are providing an exit strategy from poverty, for people to attain the American Dream.”
The bottom line is this: By promoting and modernizing career and technical education (CTE) programs, we increase the number of applicants who possess the right skills for a given job while also ensuring the students of today are the well-equipped workforce of tomorrow.
For the benefits of CTE, look no further than Wisconsin. In the Badger State, two out of every three high schoolers participate in some form of CTE and have a higher graduation rate. This is even more vital considering approximately 21% of Wisconsin’s high school graduates go directly to the job market after high school.
The young women and men participating in CTE programs will gain skills to help them be college or career ready—whatever path they decide, they will have the knowledge to achieve their dreams.
A four-year degree is the path for some, but it isn’t the right choice for everyone. By offering a wide range of options through CTE programs—apprenticeships, two- or four-year degrees, and more—we can enact policies at the federal level to empower state and local officials, helping them ensure students have the tools for success.
Like many other things in life, education is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Each student should have the opportunity to take the path that best suits their situation and needs. Last Congress, the House passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act by a vote of 405-5, and we are likely headed for a similar outcome today.
And if you want to know more, the Education and Workforce Committee has all the facts here.