To address the roofing industry’s increasingly challenging workforce needs, NRCA continues pursuing expanded opportunities for career and technical education. Demographic trends, supply chain challenges and continuing economic disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic have made finding workers more difficult, and CTE now is more important than ever.
NRCA has been focused on expanding CTE for many years. In 2015, NRCA began working with members of Congress to develop legislation that would reform and expand CTE programs funded through grants to states under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. The bipartisan legislation, Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, expanded incentives for work-based training and programs that enable students to earn industry-recognized credentials such as NRCA ProCertification.® The bill also required improved ways to measure effectiveness and hold educational institutions accountable for targeting CTE to meet employers’ workforce needs.
In 2018, the roofing industry came together during the inaugural Roofing Day in D.C. to advocate for the legislation. With the active support of the roofing industry, the bill became law later that year. State education departments are finalizing reforms designed to enhance collaboration between employers and educational institutions during the development of CTE programs.
With the law now in place, sufficient funding from Congress is critical. Funding under the Perkins Act is allocated in appropriations legislation by Congress to Perkins Basic State Grants through which the funding is distributed to state departments of education to be used for CTE. Funding is divided among all states using a complex formula based on population and poverty levels. Increased funding is essential as demand for CTE programs climbs; enrollment in trade schools has increased 40% in recent years according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
NRCA has prioritized advocacy for increased funding for Perkins Basic State Grants to maximize CTE opportunities because funding increases for these grants have not kept pace with growing demand or inflation.
In 2021, NRCA lobbied for robust funding for Perkins Basic State Grants during fiscal year 2022. Earlier this year, Congress provided an increase of $45 million in funding for Perkins Basic State Grants compared with the previous year, and total funding now is nearly $1.4 billion. NRCA is pleased with this funding increase given current budgetary constraints and competition for finite federal resources. However, for the roofing industry to continue developing the skills needed in the current workforce, Congress must place a higher priority on CTE investments via Perkins Basic State Grants in the future.
Given the importance of this issue, Roofing Day in D.C. 2022 participants again lobbied for increased funding for Perkins Basic State Grants. When roofing professionals speak with one voice regarding important issues, congressional leaders take notice. Following the success of Roofing Day in D.C. 2022, Congress needs to continue hearing from the roofing industry as lawmakers consider funding for next year’s federal budget. NRCA urges all members to contact their senators and representatives by visiting the NRCA Grassroots Advocacy Network at roofingadvocacy.nrca.net and sending an email via the “NRCA Action Alert: Urge your members of Congress to support increased funding for career and technical education” link.
Investing in the workforce
Strong investment in Perkins Basic State Grants is critical to the success of the CTE reform law passed in 2018. With sufficient funding, the law will help more students develop necessary skills to enter the workforce and help roofing industry employers address their workforce needs. For these reasons, NRCA will continue lobbying for increased funding for Perkins Basic State Grants in the coming months and years.
DUANE L. MUSSER is NRCA's vice president of government relations in Washington, D.C.