Educating the future

The new career and technical education law presents opportunities for the roofing industry

During the inaugural Roofing Day in D.C. legislative advocacy event in March 2018, more than 400 participants converged on Capitol Hill to support the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353). The legislation was designed to address future industry workforce needs by reforming career and technical education. After hearing the roofing industry speak collectively regarding a key policy issue of importance, lawmakers worked on a bipartisan basis to resolve partisan differences about the bill. The legislation was approved by Congress a few months later, and President Trump signed it into law in July 2018. This was a major victory for NRCA, partner organizations and the roofing professionals who came together for Roofing Day in D.C. 2018.

The new law reauthorizes and reforms the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which provides funding for career and technical educational programs operated at the state and local levels. The law authorized $1.2 billion for fiscal year 2019, an increase from $1.1 billion in 2017. Funding is authorized to rise to $1.3 billion during the next five years. The law takes effect July 1, and it will be up to state and local agencies working with the Trump administration to ensure the law is implemented as intended by Congress.

Positive changes

Reforms included in the law will promote more effective collaboration between employers and educational institutions at state and local levels. The law encourages high schools and post-secondary institutions to offer more opportunities for work-based training programs as well as incentives for students to earn industry-recognized credentials. The law also provides new ways to measure the effectiveness of career and technical educational programs and hold educational institutions accountable for attaining the overarching goal of targeting these programs to meet employers' workforce needs.

Under the Perkins Act, career and technical education funding is provided by the federal government to states under a complex formula based on population and poverty levels. Many states also supplement the federal funds with their own spending. How the money is distributed within each state also is determined by a formula, but the states have some discretion regarding allocation.

The new law restructures the relationship between states and the U.S. Department of Education in an effort to make career and technical educational programs more effective in meeting state and local economic needs. As in the past, states must develop plans and make progress according to a set of core indicators such as graduation rates, credential attainment and percentage of students obtaining jobs. Under the new law, states are given more discretion regarding how to structure the programs but also are required to engage in more consultation with employers and other stakeholders.

Unlike other federal workforce programs, funding under the Perkins Act flows exclusively to educational institutions and ultimately to school districts and community colleges. The new law is designed to give employers a greater role in determining the types of career and technical educational programs that will address their workforce development needs.

Employer action

The new law's required engagement and consultation between education authorities and employers presents a tremendous opportunity for the roofing industry. As the law is being implemented, state officials are seeking input regarding labor shortages and the skills employers are looking for to meet their workforce needs. This input will be used to design and implement career and technical educational programs at high schools and community colleges. More effective collaboration between educational institutions and employers at the state and local level is key to success.

To take advantage of this opportunity, employers need to make their voices heard. Employers can reach out to state education agencies that oversee Perkins Act-related programs and local high schools, community colleges and trade schools to begin communicating workforce needs to educators. Employers should ask about opportunities for collaboration such as partnerships between employers and educators, internships and other work-based training efforts. Opportunities will vary by state based on local needs and preferences.

An excellent resource for helping employers identify the state agencies and officials responsible for determining Perkins Act funding is Advance CTE, a nonprofit association representing state education agency directors and other officials responsible for secondary, post-secondary, and adult career and technical educational programs in the U.S. Advance CTE's website,, has a map of all 50 states with contact information for key officials.

State officials have begun the process of establishing plans to implement the new law, and they will work with employers to draft multiyear plans to achieve career and technical education goals. Each state plan is due in the spring of 2020. The agencies tasked with distributing Perkins Act funding will hold public hearings and provide opportunities for consultation with business representatives and other stakeholders in the coming months.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act is designed to help employers meet their workforce needs by providing students with the skills needed to pursue rewarding careers. The passage of this law demonstrates how the collective voice of the roofing industry was heard by Congress during Roofing Day in D.C. 2018 and how a united industry can influence government policy for the benefit of employers and employees. It now is critical for industry and government leaders at local, state and federal levels to take advantage of the new opportunities created by the law's enactment.

Duane Musser is NRCA's vice president of government relations in Washington, D.C.

This column is part of Rules + Regs. Click here to read additional stories from this section.


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