Sen. Tina Smith’s Priorities to Improve Career and Technical Training Become Law

WASHINGTON, D.C [07/31/18]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith’s (D-Minn.) priorities to expand workforce development were signed into law by the President today.

After passing in both houses of Congress, several measures championed by Sen. Smith—aimed at helping Minnesotans and Americans get the training they need to land careers in high-demand fields—became law as part of bipartisan education legislation.

“Not everyone wants to or has to go to a four-year college, but everyone should be able to get the skills necessary to lead their own lives and create opportunity for themselves and their families,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “My first stop after becoming Senator was at Wyoming Machine, a Minnesota sheet metal fabricator where I heard firsthand about the challenges employers face finding skilled workers. Since then, workforce development has been a top priority of mine in the Senate and I have visited K-12 schools, tech colleges, and businesses across Minnesota to learn about innovative partnerships being pioneered to help address the skills gap. All students in Minnesota deserve the opportunity to gain the skills they need for in-demand jobs, which is why I fought so hard to get this bill passed.”

The bill headed to the President’s desk includes efforts championed by Sen. Smith to:

(1) Help recruit career and technical education teachers, including those with industry experience, and assist them in getting properly licensed and credentialed to teach in the classroom; 

(2) Expand career exploration activities to include middle school students;

(3)  Ensure small and rural school districts receive fair share of program funding; and
(4) Increase the amount of funding to school districts to train students for careers in technical fields.

Earlier this year, Sen. Smith introduced the Investing in 21st Century Workforce Partnerships Act and cosponsored the Community College to Career Fund Act. In March, she kicked off a series of listening sessions across the state to talk with Minnesotans about expanding workforce development opportunities. Sen. Smith said that during her discussions on workforce training, she focused on addressing workforce readiness issues like the skills gap, K-12 and two-year college partnerships with local businesses, and on bolstering efforts to support women in the workforce.