House Democrats sponsoring bills to improve access to career & tech ed programs in Pa.

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, today announced his support for a bipartisan package of legislation that would enhance the quality of career and technical education programs throughout Pennsylvania.

This four-bill package aligns with the House Democrats’ Plan4PA to give students throughout the commonwealth a quality education that would jumpstart their careers in vocational and technical job fields.

“As Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, I am committed more than ever to improving the delivery of Career and Technical Education programs to those who need them the most,” Roebuck said. “These past few years, numbers have risen to more than 67,000 Pennsylvania high school students being able to participate in CTE programs. This bipartisan package of bills – especially my two bills – would build upon the success we have already seen, while also giving stakeholders a voice to make much-needed changes.”

In 2015, the House unanimously adopted H.R. 102 to establish the Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness. The subcommittee, co-chaired by state Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie, made several recommendations that resulted in this package of legislation, including calling for a central database of resources.

“Young Pennsylvanians contemplating career paths have access to a wealth of resources from different agencies, but there’s no central location for these resources,” Harkins said. “My H.B. 393 would call on the departments of Education, Labor and Industry, and Agriculture to develop and maintain a centralized career resource database. Having access to all of this information in one place would make the process less daunting and ensure that young job seekers have access to all the information they need to make informed decisions.”

During the subcommittee’s series of public hearings, state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, said it was noted that efforts shouldn’t be focused on reinventing the wheel by creating new programs. Rather, the state should focus on encouraging the expansion of quality programs into other parts of the state and even statewide.

“However, before we can accomplish that goal -- we must gather a complete accounting of existing CTE programs and use those programs as a model to build and foster local cooperation across the spectrum of stakeholders to improve career opportunities for students in their local communities,” Mullery said.

The four-bill package would include bills unanimously advanced by the House Education Committee from last session to the House chamber without amendments:

House Bill 393, formerly H.B. 2203, would require the Department of Education, in consultation with the departments of Labor and Industry, and Agriculture, to create and annually update an easily assessable online career resource center; sponsored by Harkins.

House Bill 394, formerly H.B. 2204, would require the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of Labor and Industry, to create a workforce development program clearinghouse. The Education Department would report its findings and actions to the Senate and House majority and minority chairmen of the Appropriations and Education committees; sponsored by Mullery.

House Bill 395, formerly H.B. 2205, would amend the Public School Code to allow CTE programs to establish an occupational advisory committee at the intermediate unit level; sponsored by Roebuck.

House Bill 396, formerly H.B. 2206, would amend the Workforce Development Act by adding at least one member to each workforce development board; sponsored by Roebuck.