U.S. Senator Tina Smith, U.S. Representative Angie Craig Introduce 21st Century Workforce Partnerships Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. [5/17/21]U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and U.S. Representative Angie Craig (D-MN 2) recently introduced companion legislation in the Senate and House to expand school-business partnerships, which would help ensure a future workforce that is trained for the jobs employers are creating.

Many employers struggle to find qualified workers across several industries, including advanced manufacturing, agriculture, information technology and health care. According to workforce studies, almost two-thirds of the millions of jobs that will need to be filled in the U.S. will require at least some post-secondary education. Schools and employers are already building programs and partnerships like those outlined in Sen. Smith and Rep. Craig’s 21st Century Workforce Partnerships Act of 2021 to equip students with the skills needed to secure these jobs, but the lawmakers recognize that the need warrants greater federal investments to support these programs.

“Workforce partnerships give students the opportunity to develop the skills they need for jobs that are available right now—often without taking on huge amounts of debt. For example: many good-paying jobs in areas like advanced manufacturing, agriculture, IT and health care don’t require an expensive 4-year degree.” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “But what I’ve learned is that oftentimes, students aren’t aware of—or don’t have access to—local programs that provide the training these jobs require. Our bill aims to fix this issue by expanding partnerships between secondary schools, community and technical colleges and local businesses. We know these partnerships work, and our goal is to make sure they work for more Minnesotans and Americans.”

“Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, which cost our nation millions of jobs, apprenticeship programs and manufacturing degrees are more important than ever – offering Minnesotans like my own son, Josh, the skills they need to land a good-paying job,” said Rep. Craig. “I’m proud to work with my friend and colleague, Senator Tina Smith, on this critical bill to expand partnerships between schools and local businesses to fill Minnesota’s job gap, set students up for success and build back better.”

The 21st Century Workforce Partnerships Act of 2021 would help:  

  • Show students a variety of career options at a younger ages;
  • Prepare students to be ready for the future, not just for four-year colleges;
  • Challenge outdated assumptions about manufacturing;
  • Expand on existing, successful partnerships between schools and employers; and 
  • Complement and supplement existing Perkins CTE programs.

You can access a summary of the bill here.