On July 21, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued proposed rules to update the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report.
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Helping Americans succeed in the workforce is a leading priority for members on the Education and the Workforce Committee. That’s why the committee unanimously passed a bill to strengthen career and technical education and help prepare more students for today’s high-demand jobs. Mark MacCarthy, vice president for public policy at the Software & Information Industry Association, wrote in The Hill how this bipartisan proposal will “ensure that technical education can anticipate the demand for jobs and equip the next generation labor force to meet these challenges.”
Reforms Needed to Modernize the American Workforce
By Mark MacCarthy
July 18, 2016
Siri will update you on the weather, share a joke, and tell you what’s on your calendar – but what she won’t tell you is that she’s the reason many fear technology is the enemy of jobs. Not Siri alone of course, but the myriad of ways technology is automating systems and eliminating the need for manual processes has created a growing uneasiness about the future of work.
While this fear is very likely overstated, there is no question that technology is reshaping the way work gets done. It is time for policymakers, industry and educators to fully recognize this change, and do more to adjust to the modern business environment.
In a display of bipartisan unity July 7, the House Education and Workforce Committee took a significant step towards doing just that. With its unanimous passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the Committee began the process of streamlining and modernizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act – first passed in the Reagan Administration – to better meet the needs of today’s students and businesses.
The Perkins Act provides federal support to state and local career and technical education, or CTE, programs, which are created and operated by state and local education leaders. These programs prepare high school and postsecondary students with academic, technical, and employability skills. But over the years, they have clearly struggled to keep up with the realities and challenges facing today’s workers and businesses.
The proposed reauthorization will strengthen connections between CTE programs and business and industry. Doing so will help more precisely identify the career fields, along with the skills and credentials, needed regionally. The legislation also calls for a new biennial needs assessment that will ensure programs stay current as workforce needs evolve. These reforms will help CTE programs make certain students can compete for the particular types of jobs that exist locally – now, and in the future ...
If the House passes the current reform bill and the Senate follows with quick action, we will make meaningful progress to ensure that technical education can anticipate the demand for jobs and equip the next generation labor force to meet these challenges.
To read the full op-ed, click here.
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June 2016 (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) At its 47th Annual National Convention, Hall of Fame Gala, the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) awarded Lisa Colon Heron, Esq. with the Ray Dones Service Award. The Ray Down Service Award, named in honor of NAMC’s founder, recognizes a NAMC member who has provided significant contributions to NAMC.
Lisa is a Partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Smith Currie & Hancock. Lisa is Board Certified in Construction Law by the Florida Bar. Lisa represents owners, contractors, and subcontractors, , design professionals, and sureties in public and private real estate and construction matters and has experience with federal, state and local government contracting issues.
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act has provided federal support to state and local career and technical education programs for more than 30 years. H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, updates the law to reflect today’s economic needs and the challenges that students and workers currently face.
In particular, I’m pleased that the bill streamlines the number of performance measures for postsecondary programs and aligns them with the performance measures in WIOA, retaining that law’s precedent-setting accountability standards that let taxpayers and lawmakers see clearly which programs work—and which programs don’t.
This bipartisan bill goes a long way toward ensuring that individuals who pursue a technical education have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
However, I believe it’s time we acknowledge that all education is career education and stop dividing the path to a high school degree into two tracks.
Students pursue education to develop the necessary skills to find a job, preferably a career, in a chosen field. It’s the same objective whether the student is pursuing a medical degree at an Ivy League university or taking automotive performance courses at the local community college.
Unfortunately, there is an unnecessary stigma attached to career and technical education. It’s too often referred to as the “other” track, with the incorrect implication that it’s the path individuals take if they won’t be able to handle the rigors of college. In reality, students who pursue CTE complete a diverse curriculum where they learn important skills for succeeding in the workplace, such as problem-solving, research, time management, and critical thinking. They are more engaged, perform better and graduate at higher rates than their college-bound counterparts. We should be celebrating that success and studying how we translate it across the board.
But as long as we have two educational tracks, we have a problem in the way people perceive those who choose career and technical education. We need to shift our perspective away from the idea that every student must attend an expansive and expensive four-year program to succeed in the workforce. Educational success is about more than just a degree. It’s about quantifiable skills that employers need in their employees.
A quality education is crucial to succeeding in today’s workforce. Unfortunately, our costly, bureaucratic, and outdated higher education system leaves too many Americans behind.
We all know the tough challenges that exist. College costs continue to rise. A dizzying maze of student aid programs discourages students from pursuing a degree or credential. Complex federal rules impede innovation and make it harder for students to pursue a degree more quickly and at less cost.
The net result is that it’s become harder and harder for Americans to realize the dream of a higher education. Without the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the workforce, many men and women struggle to find good-paying jobs and earn a living to provide for their families.
Those who are fortunate enough to earn a degree are often saddled with student debt they can’t afford and unprepared to start their careers in an increasingly competitive and changing economy.
We have to do better. We have to open more doors to opportunity and help more Americans reach their full potential.
The bipartisan package of higher education reforms we’re considering is a positive step toward achieving that goal.
Together, these reforms will empower students and their parents to make informed decisions; simplify and improve the student aid process; enhance existing support for institutions serving minority students; and ensure strong accountability for taxpayer dollars.
We have more work to do to strengthen higher education, but today we are making important progress.
I want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues for putting their differences aside and working together to help more Americans pursue their dream of a college degree.
Thompson Statement: Markup of H.R. 5587, "Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act"
It’s no secret that our country continues to face significant economic challenges, and it’s no surprise that many men and women are worried about their future and their family’s future. Just last week, a Gallup poll found that 54 percent—just 54 percent—of Americans believe today’s young people will live a better life than their parents.
As a father, I can say there is nothing a parent wants more for their children than a life that is better than their own. When you hear that only half of all Americans expect their children to have a brighter future than they did, it becomes clear that we need to do better. And we can do better—not just for our own kids but for the neighbor who can’t find a job, the friend from church who struggles to make ends meet, or the high school student who doesn’t believe he or she has what it takes to succeed.
With the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, we have an opportunity today to advance reforms that will help these and many other Americans—especially young Americans—obtain the knowledge and skills they need to break the cycle of poverty and achieve a lifetime of success. The bill will modernize and improve current law to better reflect the challenges and realities facing students, workers, and employers.
The bill will empower state and local leaders by simplifying the application process for receiving federal funds and providing them more flexibility to use those resources to respond to changing education and economic needs. These reforms will help state leaders focus on preparing students for the workforce—not duplicative or overly prescriptive federal requirements—and enable them to determine the best way to do so.
Other reforms will help ensure career and technical education is providing students the skills they need to compete for in-demand jobs that exist in their local communities now and in the future. To accomplish that goal, the legislation promotes work-based learning and encourages stronger engagement with employers—both in developing and evaluating career and technical education.
To increase transparency and accountability, H.R. 5587 streamlines performance measures to ensure secondary and postsecondary programs deliver results, helping students graduate prepared to secure a good-paying job or further their education. The bill also includes measures to provide students, taxpayers, and state and local leaders the information they need to hold CTE programs accountable for delivering those results.
Finally, H. R. 5587 will reduce the federal role in career and technical education and limiting opportunities for the federal government to intervene in state and local decisions, and preventing political favoritism.
These reforms and others in this bipartisan bill will improve CTE for the many students who rely on it to help them pursue their dreams and accomplish their goals. And I’m confident they will also help more students do the same.
The substitute amendment I am offering makes a number of changes, including technical clarifications, to the underlying bill. Among them are changes to clarify eligibility requirements for postsecondary institutions and the innovation grants application process. Other changes will increase coordination between research and evaluation activities, improve professional development, and allow CTE funds to be used to support career and technical student organizations and to make instructional content widely available.
In closing, I’d like to thank Representative Clark and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle for the work they have done to move this bill forward. I urge all of my colleagues to support this important bipartisan legislation.
Kline Statement: Markup of H.R. 5587, "Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act"
We are here because of inspiring individuals like Paul Tse. Paul is, in his own words, a proud graduate of a career and technical education program. These programs—created and run at the state and local levels—offer individuals the knowledge and hands-on training they need for a wide range of fields, from computer science and information technology to law enforcement and nursing. Successful CTE programs are often based on rigorous coursework and the workforce needs of local communities.
At a hearing the committee held in May, Paul testified how he struggled as a student in high school—poor attendance and lackluster grades. As his friends began making plans to go off to college, he remembered feeling embarrassed and helpless at the idea that he might be left behind. Then one day his life changed.
A family member suggested he look into a skilled trade as a possible career path. With the help of a guidance counselor, Paul enrolled in a CTE program at the Thomas Edison High School of Technology, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. His program focused on installing and maintaining heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Soon after graduation, he received two offers to join local businesses as an apprentice.
In the span of a few years, Paul has been a student, apprentice, journeyman, and now, project manager. He has a promising, fulfilling career, and I might add, not a dime of student loan debt. Speaking of his experience as a CTE student, Paul said, “I am the American dream,” and he urged us to help ensure every child in America has the same opportunities he did.
I think all of us want to hear more stories like Paul’s, and that’s why this legislation is so important. In recent years, we have taken significant steps to help individuals receive the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. We modernized an outdated workforce development system and improved K-12 education, important achievements that will make a positive impact in the lives of many Americans.
Today we can build on those efforts and help further spread the promise of a quality education to more Americans. Indeed, many of the same principles that guided those efforts are also reflected in this bill: restoring control to state and local leaders; enhancing transparency and accountability for taxpayers; ensuring a limited federal role; and better aligning programs with in-demand jobs.
It’s because of these principles the bill includes reforms to ease administrative burdens and increase funding flexibility at the state and local levels; it’s why the legislation encourages stronger partnerships with local business leaders; it’s why the bill empowers state leaders to set clear measures of performance that serve the interests of students and taxpayers; and it’s why the legislation reins in the authority of the Secretary of Education and restricts the ability of the federal government to interfere in state and local decisions.
These reforms will help prepare students for today’s workforce, not the workforce that existed years ago. A great education is the great equalizer, but not every individual chooses the same path. For those who have a particular skill, talent, or passion, career and technical education is often the key that opens the door to a lifetime of success. That’s true for Paul Tse, and with this legislation, it can be true for many others as well.
I want to thank Representatives Thompson and Clarke for introducing a bipartisan bill that will improve career and technical education and help Americans compete and succeed in the workforce. I urge my colleagues to support the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.