NCCER_PATHWAYS_-CAUCUS_BRIEFING-6421_-smallAlachua, Fla. – On Tuesday, Board member Eric Regelin and Director of Governmental Relations Tim Johnson represented NCCER at a briefing of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus in Washington, D.C.  The briefing, hosted by CTE Caucus co-chairs Congressman Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania and Congressman Jim Langevin of Rhode Island, focused on the findings of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s landmark study – “Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenges of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century.”

The report’s primary author and Director of the Pathways to Prosperity Project, William Symonds, shared the report’s conclusion that the American education system must do a better job or promoting multiple pathways by not focusing exclusively on four-year degrees as the only path to a successful career.  Symonds also called for a strengthening of career and technical education programs at secondary schools and for a new social compact between students, parents, schools and businesses in each community.

“I thought the briefing was a great success,” said Tim Johnson of NCCER.  “I believe that the Harvard study is a game changer.  It is bringing increased attention to an issue that is critically important to the construction industry and all other industries in the United States – we must continue to improve and reinvent career and technical education.”

Johnson briefed the caucus on NCCER’s Build Your Future campaign, which is designed to help narrow the skills gap by guiding America’s youth and displaced workers into opportunities for advanced education, training and careers in the construction industry.  He also informed the gathering about NCCER’s expansive network of over 4,000 accredited training and assessment locations across the country offering NCCER’s standardized training programs and portable credentials for the construction industry.

Regelin, who is also the 2012 National Chairman of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), talked about the current demand for skilled construction professionals across the United States.  He said that the construction industry has lost 2 million workers during the recession, and highlighted that training and employing new craft professionals, as well as upgrading the skills of the current construction workforce, will be critical to the recovery.

Jeff Mays, President of the Illinois Business Roundtable and Jason Tyszko, Deputy Chief of Staff for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, provided an overview of “Illinois Pathways,” the state of Illinois’ effort to respond to the Harvard study and support college and career readiness for all Illinois students.  The program is creating new statewide public-private partnerships called “Learning Exchanges,” that better coordinate investments, resources and planning for local programs that empower students to explore their academic and career interests.

Kim Greene, Executive Director of the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium, spoke to the caucus about the need to renew funding streams for career and technical education and to re-authorize the Workforce Investment Act and Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

Jan Bray, Executive Director of the Association for Career and Technical Education, added that more focus must be placed on career and technical education in the United States to avoid falling behind other global economic powers in workforce preparation and competitiveness.