By: Don Shaw email: don.shaw@pennsylvaniachronicle.com (570) 543-2961

PA Senate approves bill to improve career and technical education and workforce development

PA Senate approves bill to improve career and technical education and workforce development

Harrisburg, PA

 

The Pennsylvania Senate approved a comprehensive bill yesterday that seeks to address deep-seated issues within our state’s career and technical education system that have long stymied the growth of this critical component of post-secondary education options for Pennsylvania students, according to Senator Ryan Aument (R-36).

The purpose of this bill is to make it easier for students to pursue career and technical education by modernizing the system, streamlining the process for students to receive and transfer credits, and removing barriers for students to be exposed to different training options and available career paths.

The bill also removes regulatory burdens and updates terminology to remove the decades-old stigma against career and technical schools, thereby paving the way for students to pursue these rewarding career opportunities.

“Career and technical schools offer a viable pathway for young people to find fulfilling, good-paying careers in high-demand industries, but the current system still creates barriers that prevent many students from pursuing these careers – if they even know that they exist at all,” Aument said. “Breaking down these barriers will open up a world of opportunities for young people and ensure that Pennsylvania’s workforce keeps pace with the demands of the 21st Century economy.”

The legislation included language from a number of other bills on the topic, including:

  1. House Bill 265 sponsored by Representative Craig Staats:  Requires the creation of an online database to contain information pertaining to statewide and regional articulation agreements in an effort to ease the process of transferring credits between institutions and to allow users to be aware of these agreements before making course enrollment decisions.
  2. House Bill 334 sponsored by Representative Seth Grove:  Requires the newly established Commission for Agriculture Education Excellence to issue guidelines for circumstances under which a student who successfully completes an academic course, program, or activity for credit may apply the credit toward completion of an agriculture education program.
  3. House Bill 393 sponsored by Representative Patrick Harkins:  Requires the departments of Education, Labor and Industry, and Agriculture to create the “The PASmart Online Career Resource Center,” an online clearinghouse of information for students, parents, educators and school officials regarding postsecondary education and career pathways.  The online resource will include information on career pathways, data and statistics on employment and compensation, and other relevant resources to help students understand all of the opportunities that are available to them after graduation.
  4. House Bill 394 sponsored by Representative Gerald Mullery:  Requires the Department of Education (PDE) and the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) to conduct a complete inventory of existing workforce development programs at both the secondary and postsecondary levels with particular emphasis on opportunities for business-education partnerships in an effort to share those best practices with the various entities to help improve the delivery of career-focused opportunities.
  5. House Bill 796 sponsored by Representatives Solomon, Bernstine, & Klunk:  Establishes a Schools-to-Work Program in the Department of Labor and Industry to provide grants to support the creation of workforce development partnerships between schools, employers, trade associations, and other organizations to create pathways to training and employment.
  6. Senate Bill 89 sponsored by Senators Aument and Hughes:  Updates references to “vocational-technical schools” in the Public School Code and replaces them with “career and technical schools” in an effort to remove stigma.

Among other things, the bill will also codify Department of Education guidelines regarding career and technology education equipment grants to clarify that grant awards can be used to purchase an entire set of tools.

The omnibus bill is now headed to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.

About The Author

Don Shaw

Don Shaw journalist covering local news for The Pennsylvania Chronicle (717) 461-2107 don.shaw@pennsylvaniachronicle.com