State House moves to expand career, technical education (with video)

HARRISBURG, April 30 – A package of bipartisan bills looking to boost career and technical education today passed the state House of Representatives, according to one of the bill’s prime sponsors Rep. Gerald Mullery.

"It’s a pleasure to work with my colleagues in a bipartisan way to help improve the delivery of career and technical education in Pennsylvania. Recently, when I met with the owner of Dotzel Trucking and Topsoil -- a small, family-run business in Slocum Township – he stressed to me the importance of technical education for our younger generation.

"As minority chairman of the Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness, we discovered that in many areas of the state, various CTE stakeholders are engaging in meaningful partnerships to encourage a continuum of career and workforce development opportunities for our students," Mullery said.

During the group’s public hearings, Mullery 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.

"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," he said.

Under Mullery’s H.B. 2204, the Department of Education and the Department of Labor and Industry would conduct an inventory of existing workforce development programs at both the secondary and postsecondary levels with particular emphasis on opportunities for business-education partnerships. The goal would be to share those best practices learned with the various entities to help improve the delivery of career-focused opportunities.

Other bills in the package include:

  • H.B. 2155 would reform certification requirements for CTE teachers by emphasizing work experience in the field over additional course credits;
  • H.B. 2157 would speed the process for the classification of instructional programs;
  • H.B. 2158 would provide all students in grades four through 12 at least one opportunity to receive career information from career presenters and it would open schools to a wide range of educational contributors;
  • H.B. 2159 would expand the database that allows courses, programs, certifications and diplomas to transfer among public schools and colleges;
  • H.B. 2203 would create an online CTE resource center; and
  • H.B. 2206 would require Workforce Development Boards to include an administrator of a CTE center.

Expanding career and technical education is part of the Plan4PA, the House Democrats’ proposal for creating and sustaining good jobs. More information can be found at www.plan4pa.com.

"As a commonwealth, it’s important that we train students for the jobs that will be available in the future; and successful career and technical education programs do just that," Mullery said. "I would like to thank both Education Committee chairmen for leading our efforts and I also want to thank Governor Tom Wolf for his commitment to career and technical education."