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Advocacy for Career and Technical Education

Gary Wixom, Assistant Commissioner of Academic Affairs, Utah System of Higher Education

The United States is facing some hard economic times. The U.S. Congress is just getting around to passing the 2011 budget, which includes some cuts to Career and Technical Education (CTE). After taking an immediate cut of 2 percent, the Carl D. Perkins funding will lose an additional $138 million dollars in the next year. There is no doubt that Congress must make some “tough” decisions to get spending and the deficit under control. However, CTE plays a critical role in the economic development of the country. CTE educators need to communicate with their representatives to make sure that they understand that training the workforce is critical to our economic recovery.

If you are reading the articles concerning the “recovery”, you are seeing terms like “jobless recovery”. The economy is struggling to show strength, but without an increase in the number jobs being created we are in for a long struggle. It is not that companies are not making money—they are making money and holding on to it. To some degree this is due to lack of confidence in where the country is headed. Large and small businesses are holding on to cash that could be spent on expansion and new jobs, but there is a lack of confidence in the future.

When the economy begins to add jobs, where will they be added? Many of them will be in the areas that CTE programs provide training. If we do not keep our Career and Technical training programs strong, then the problem will shift again to jobs going unfilled due to the lack of trained workers. According to Forbes Magazine, the hottest jobs between now and 2018 will be in the biomedical area, information and data communications, and health related areas. All of these areas are ones that CTE supports by providing training and career pathways for students. What can we do? Help get the story out. Talk to local, state and national representatives and let them know how important strong CTE programs are for the future of the state and the country. CTE: Learning That Works for America™.

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