Baldwin & Reed Seek to Strengthen U.S. Workforce Through Enhanced Adult Education Offerings

CTE for All Act will help working-age adults build their job skills and advance, with an emphasis on high-demand jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. As the Senate works toward passage of bipartisan legislation to reauthorize a career and technical education program for students nationwide, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) are working to include a key measure that would help working-age adults build their skills and strengthen states’ abilities to offer more career-technical or skills-based classes.  The Career and Technical Education for Adult Learners Act (S. 3349, also known as the “CTE for ALL Act”) will help American businesses close the skills gap by amending the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins Act) to improve pathways for adults to attain career and technical education.

A 2013 Survey of Adult Skills found that millions of America’s working adults have low literacy, numeracy, and/or digital problem solving skills.  The skills gap has no age barrier, with half of the low-skilled working adults under the age of 45.  And many workers who could benefit from CTE are in the health care, construction, manufacturing, and hospitality fields, yet they’re not participating in learning opportunities.

“There is a growing understanding that career and technical education is one of the most effective vehicles for responding to labor market changes and the workforce readiness needs of business and industry,” said Senator Baldwin. “The CTE for ALL Act will strengthen career and technical education programs and create more opportunity for working-age adults.  This legislation will help ensure that our workforce is better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of the future, meet the needs of businesses, and raise incomes for workers.”

“There is no “one size fits all” pathway to a successful career.  But education leads to opportunity.  And programs that blend basic skills and occupational training can help adult learners maximize their potential and increase their earning power,” said Senator Reed. “This bill takes a results-oriented approach to better aligning our education and workforce training initiatives with high-demand sectors.  Enhancing adult education helps American workers learn new skills and improve their lives.  It can help lift individuals, communities, and businesses together because the more skilled workers who are out there earning a paycheck, the more demand there is for the goods and services our businesses offer.”

Specifically, the CTE for ALL Act will:

  • Ensure that programs funded under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act are aligned with adult education programs and industry sector partnerships authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
  • Allow states to develop core indicators of performance for adult learners that are aligned with the indicators of performance in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
  • Include the state director of adult education in the development of the state plan for career and technical education.
  • Clarify that adult education providers that also offer career and technical education programs are eligible to receive funds under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
  • Encourage a greater emphasis on work experiences as part of career and technical education programs.