As workforce development becomes increasingly important to the future of the roofing industry, NRCA is focused on maximizing opportunities for career and technical education. Effective CTE programs provide important opportunities for students to develop the skills and knowledge needed to pursue rewarding careers in the roofing industry. With demographic trends and continued economic recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic expected to make finding skilled candidates for job openings more difficult for roofing companies, CTE will become even more important to building a strong workforce.
In 2018, NRCA supported the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” legislation designed to address future industry workforce needs by reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 and reforming and expanding CTE. After the roofing industry advocated for the bill during the inaugural Roofing Day in D.C. in March 2018, the legislation was enacted into law later that year.
The law now is being implemented at the state level with reforms designed to enable more effective collaboration between employers and educational institutions in CTE programs. The law contains incentives for work-based training programs and for students to earn industryrecognized credentials, such as those earned via NRCA Procertification® The law also requires new ways to measure effectiveness and hold educational institutions accountable for attaining the overarching goal of targeting CTE to meet employers’ workforce needs in each state.
Sufficient funding from Congress is needed to maximize the law’s effectiveness. The law increased authorized funding levels by 10% from about $1.1 billion in 2017 to more than $1.3 billion annually in 2023. However, authorized levels are only the first step in providing federal funding; Congress provides the actual funds each year through the appropriations process while using the authorized levels as a recommendation.
Funding under the Perkins Act is allocated in appropriations legislation by Congress to Perkins Basic State Grants through which the funding is allocated to state departments of education to be used for CTE. For example, in fiscal year 2017, Congress provided $1.1 billion for Perkins State Grants. The funding is divided among the 50 states under a complex formula based on population and poverty levels. Some states supplement the federal funds with their own spending for CTE efforts.
NRCA currently is focused on increasing funding for Perkins Basic State Grants to maximize CTE opportunities available to employers. This funding is critical to help high schools, community colleges and trade schools provide students with the necessary training to close the skills gaps in the current workforce. However, because of budgetary pressures, congressional appropriations for Perkins Basic State Grants have not kept pace with growing demand during the past two decades, and total Perkins funding remains lower on an inflationad-adjusted basis than it was a decade ago.
In 2020, NRCA urged Congress to provide additional funding for Perkins Basic State Grants during fiscal year 2021. In appropriations legislation passed in late 2020, Congress provided $1.3 billion for Perkins Basic State Grants, an increase of $52 million compared with fiscal year 2020. This was the largest increase in funding for Perkins Basic State Grants in recent years.
To continue developing the skills needed in the current workforce, Congress must place a high priority on CTE investments via Perkins Basic State Grants. Failure to make strong investments in CTE will negatively affect students who are striving to obtain necessary skills and the companies that would employ them.
Participants attending virtual Roofing Day in D.C. 2021 in March advocated for increased funding for Perkins Basic State Grants. More than 300 roofing professionals urged their senators and representatives to support this effort. Congress needs to continue hearing from employers in the roofing industry in support of Perkins Basic State Grants funding if it is to become a reality.
Congress is expected to make final decisions regarding funding levels in appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2022 later this year.
NRCA believes a strong investment in Perkins Basic State Grants is critical to the success of the reform law passed in 2018. With sufficient funding, the law will give roofing industry employers the tools to address future workforce needs. NRCA will continue advocating for increased funding for Perkins Basic State Grants in the coming months and years.
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