AWFS Members Call on D.C. Legislators to Support Career Technical Education
- On 18 Mar 2018
- By Adria
Ten members of the AWFS Public Policy Committee called on the offices of twenty nine legislators and agency staff in Washington on February 28, 2018, to encourage support for Career Technical Education (CTE) and apprenticeship programs, both critical for strengthening our industry’s skilled workforce.
The fly-in, a joint effort with Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America (WMMA) and Woodworking Machinery Industry Association (WMIA), had nearly thirty attendees. Attendees found the event to be productive, well-organized, informative, and fun. “Every meeting was meaningful and worthwhile toward our goal”, said committee member Dave Golling of Royal Plywood, “this was time well-spent”.
AWFS has chosen to make CTE a priority talking point with legislators because of the critical shortage of skilled workers coming into the industry. This is a key moment for involvement as many legislators are hearing and seeing the negative impact to their state’s economies and businesses due to this worker crisis. Members carried the message that support of CTE was critical to small and medium-sized businesses as well as larger entities.
Of key importance to sustaining support for skilled trades in public schools is the Perkins Modernization Act, which would update long-standing legislation that has been the backbone of CTE across the country. While reauthorization of the Perkins bill passed in the House in June 2017, it is currently stalled in the Senate. The group called on the chairpersons of the CTE-focused caucuses in the House and the Senate — the offices of Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), and Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5). AWFS members also met personally with Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA-05). Having met with Rep. Thompson during previous fly-ins, he is now familiar with our group and, as a staunch supporter of CTE, is an ally of our message.
We learned that other education-focused legislation is requiring a higher priority before Perkins reauthorization is discussed in the Senate, specifically the Higher Education Act (HEA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). AWFS will continue to monitor these and adjust our messaging to help move these issues forward.
During each meeting, AWFS stressed our interest in developing long-term relationships with the hill members, inviting them to site visits and “using us as a resource” on issues related to workforce development and industry CTE needs. As a result, AWFS Public Policy Chair Rob Howell of SCM has coordinated a site visit for June 1 with his local Representative, Rob Woodall (R-GA-7). Rep. Woodall is supportive of and involved in CTE initiatives at local high schools in his district.
AWFS also held a meeting with key team members from the Department of Labor’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, including Ms. Laurie Rowe, special advisor to Secretary Acosta. There was a generous exchange of information and DOL strongly encouraged the development of an industry-wide apprenticeship program. While awaiting the final findings of the Apprenticeship Task Force, AWFS will research further and determine feasibility of involvement in this area.