Federal and State

Investing in America’s Future, A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education

Letter from the Secretary of Education:

In his 2012 State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out a blueprint for an economy that is built to last. The President’s plan affirms that the strength of the American economy is inextricably linked to the strength of America’s education system. Particularly in times of economic challenge, American employers need a workforce that is skilled, adaptable, creative, and equipped for success in the global marketplace. And our students need a more rigorous, better tailored education to acquire the skills they need to compete, to follow a clear pathway into the middle class and to continue to prosper.

To educate our way to a better economy, educators, public officials, and policymakers must ensure that every student in our country graduates from high school prepared for college and a successful career. Yet that is not enough. If America is to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the end of the decade, every American should have access to at least one year of higher education or postsecondary training at an affordable cost. A world-class education system that provides high-quality job-training opportunities will reduce skills shortages, spur business growth, encourage new investment and hiring, spark innovation, and promote continued economic growth.

These educational goals are central to rebuilding our economy and securing a brighter future for our nation, and our career and technical education (CTE) system plays a critical part in accomplishing them. With $1.14 billion in funding for Fiscal Year 2012, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins Act or Act) represents a considerable investment in career readiness. Perkins Act programs leverage other components of a broader education and career pathways system that includes K–12 and postsecondary education, workforce investment and job training, adult education, and health and human services. They help create an American economy built to last.

At present, however, the Perkins Act is in need of reform and updating. The 2006 Act took modest yet important steps to improve the quality of CTE programs. But it did not go far enough to address the overarching educational and economic needs of youths and adults preparing to participate in the knowledge-based, global marketplace of the 21st century.

Our federal investment in CTE must be dramatically reshaped to fulfill its potential to prepare all students, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances, for further education and cutting-edge careers. The need to strengthen and elevate CTE is urgent. This is a not a time to tinker with CTE—it is a time to transform it. To help accomplish this transformation, this blueprint sets forth the elements of a rigorous, relevant, and results-driven CTE program through reauthorization of the Perkins Act.