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Statement by National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) Executive Director Kimberly Green on President Obama’s State of the Union

SILVER SPRING, MD – In his State of the Union Address yesterday, President Obama said more resources should be directed to community colleges that train job seekers with the skills businesses need to fill jobs right now. National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) supports the President’s call and urges the Administration to provide funding for legislation such as the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (Perkins) Act, which funds Career Technical Education (CTE) programs that train students for high-demand jobs.

The President highlighted the nation’s skills gap issue across industries such as manufacturing, information technology and clean energy: “Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job.” In an effort to solve this problem, he called for a national commitment to train two million individuals with the skills they need to land a job, with a focus on partnerships between businesses and community colleges.

The mismatch between the jobs that exist and the lack of skilled workers to fill jobs can be addressed through CTE programs. Much like the example the President cited about Siemens partnering with a community college in Charlotte, CTE programs have long partnered with business and industry at both the secondary and postsecondary levels to ensure that students gain the knowledge and skills required by employers.

In his Blueprint for an America Built to Last released last night, the President also voiced his support for business partnerships with high schools in the form of more career academies. Research has supported career academies as an effective delivery method of CTE at the high school level.

We believe that educating and training two million additional individuals will require a greater investment in CTE programs through the Perkins Act. However, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, the Perkins Act lost $140 million in funding. The cuts to Perkins have resulted in programs closing and fewer students gaining the skills needed to shrink the skills gap that the President hopes to address. We hope that his commitment to address the skills gap and provide resources for the unemployed will be reflected in his proposal for Perkins Act funding in his FY13 budget on February 13.

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