Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) announced the formation of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus. The bipartisan Caucus, co-chaired by Portman and Kaine, will focus on improving and strengthening access to career and technical education to ensure that students of all ages are prepared with the skills they need for the jobs of the 21st century.

“In today’s competitive and dynamic job market, far too many Americans are finding that they lack the skills they need to get a good paying job,” said Portman. “I agree with the President’s remarks in his State of the Union Address that we must close this skills gap to get Americans working again.  One way we can do that is by focusing on Career and Technical Education that equips workers with credentials, certificates, and other training that will match them with open jobs. I look forward to working with Senator Kaine as a Co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus to bridge the skills gap and get Americans back to work.”

“From growing up working in my Dad's small ironworking shop to creating Governor’s Career and Technical academies, career and technical education has always been a passion of mine,” said Kaine. “Through career and technical programs we can strengthen the links between the classroom and the workplace, helping students acquire the education and skills that will help them find employment and enjoy productive, successful lives after graduation. President Obama’s inclusion of workforce training as a priority in his State of the Union Address is a heartening sign for what we can accomplish this year. I am proud to launch the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus with Senator Portman and I look forward to working together to improve CTE.”

According to the Association for Career and Technical Education, the average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in career and technical programs is 90 percent, compared with the national average of 78 percent.  Additionally, 81 percent of high school dropouts say real-world learning opportunities would have kept them in school.
 
The Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, a counterpart to the House Career and Technical Education Caucus, will support efforts to ensure all students have access to high-quality, rigorous career and technical education to prepare them for college and for their future careers. It will also work to ensure that unemployed and displaced adult and youth workers have better access to training that is accountable, equips them with skills that are relevant in the job market, and ultimately delivers results for the taxpayer.

Ohio currently has a 7.2 percent unemployment rate and over 400,000 people looking for work, yet employers are having difficulty filling over 100,000 jobs. Last year, Portman introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) called the CAREER Act to address this skills gap. The federal government spends billions of dollars each year on job training programs, which can be a valuable tool to help job seekers acquire skills to re-enter the job market. But these programs are complex, redundant, and unaccountable, and are clearly falling short. The CAREER Act will help reform the system to better equip the unemployed with skills that are in-demand, introduce more accountability, provide better data for tracking outcomes, and help reduce wasteful overlap and redundancy in the system.