By Nicole Rice, Policy Director, Government Relations
The CMTA-supported bill that maintains targeted funding for K-12 career technical education (CTE) programs passed its first legislative hurdle. Senate Bill 148 by Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) received an unanimous vote from the Senate Education Committee after the author agreed to accept the Committee’s amendments that were designed to reduce the proposal’s complexity and improve its implementation. While CMTA would argue that some of the changes slightly diminish the effectiveness of the program’s ability to produce high-quality, industry-valued CTE programs, we remain supportive of the effort to continue dedicated funding for K-12 career and technical training, which is an essential component of the state’s workforce development pipeline.
In the wake of the numerous changes made to the State’s education financing structure, there has been a wholesale diversion of CTE education resources. The bulk of those dollars (nearly $400 million in regional occupational centers and programs funding) are slated to expire June 30, 2015 and will permanently become part of all school districts’ general purpose revenue. If that happens, the future of existing CTE programs becomes uncertain and millions of dollars in public and private investment used to build and sustain these programs could be lost.
SB 148 creates a CTE incentive grant program that continues the dedication of $600 million in existing CTE resources to a more effective delivery system that will increase the quality of the programs and ensure students are technically trained in the skills that matter most to industries like Advanced Manufacturing. The Governor also has a similar yet streamlined incentive grant approach in his 2015-16 Budget proposed in January that CMTA supports as well. He appropriates $250 million over the next three years to support these critical programs.
As the industrial workforce retirements accelerate and global competition demands greater innovation and technological capability, California manufacturers will need a stable and reliable pipeline of highly-skilled workers to expand operations and meet current and future job needs.
We continue to have difficulty filling positions for machinists, electrical and mechanical technicians, CNC machinists and other manufacturing jobs, most of which require less than a bachelor's degree but demand a rigorous level of secondary or post-secondary training. Without a thriving, well-funded CTE delivery system at the K-12 level, this task promises to become much more difficult.
To watch the hearing on Senate Education Committee click here.
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