- Continuing efforts by House Republicans to improve access to quality education and family-sustaining careers, the General Assembly sent a package of bills to modernize and overhaul Pennsylvania’s Career and Technical Education programs to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk this week.
This legislation will improve efforts to expose students to modern training and career paths, streamline the process for students to receive or transfer credits, and improve access for all Pennsylvanians interested in pursuing technical education.
“Pennsylvania finds itself in a powerful position, with companies lining up to utilize many of our resources,” House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom) said. “This package of bills is an investment in our most important natural resource, our people. This overhaul is a move to improve opportunities for our young people, and anyone willing to work here in our Commonwealth, so that our economy can continue to grow and compete on a global scale.”
House Bill 265 (Rep. Craig Staats, R-Bucks) passed both the House and Senate with unanimous support. As introduced, the bill would require 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.
The bill was amended to also include the following CTE reform proposals:
• HB 334
: Would require 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.
• HB 393
: Would require 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 available to them after graduation.
• HB 394
: Would require 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.
• HB 395
: Would allow CTE programs or a cluster of programs to establish occupational advisory committees at the Intermediate Unit (IU) level to serve multiple school districts or Career and Technical Centers (CTCs).
• HB 796
: Would establish 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.
• HB 297
: Would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to develop materials outlining workforce needs, including training opportunities and future earning potential. Also allows for community colleges and other technical and/or trade schools to attend career/college fairs.
• SB 89
Updates references to “vocational-technical schools” in the Public School Code and replace them with “career and technical schools” in an effort to remove stigma.
“In many sectors of our state’s economy, we currently have more job openings than qualified people to fill them. This package is a crucial step in removing barriers holding back Pennsylvanians from getting the training required to fill these family-sustaining careers,” Cutler said. “We made improving CTE access and programs a top priority for the House this year. I know the governor agrees with those efforts and urge him to swiftly sign House Bill 265 into law.”
Representative Bryan Cutler
100th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Mike Straub