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Roby: Celebrating career and technical education

The modern workplace is constantly changing, and it’s imperative that educators and facilities keep up with this rapid pace.

For almost 40 years, federal funding has helped support career and technical education programs at the state and local level. Career Tech programs help connect students with rewarding careers and boost local economies by enhancing the workforce. These programs ensure our future workers have the necessary skills that are foundational to our society. The Career Tech Education (CTE) programs across the country and in the state of Alabama have greatly improved over the years to offer training that our students are sincerely interested in.

Our state is fortunate to have a strong CTE network, offering a wide array of career training that works in accord with industry to guarantee the training corresponds with jobs that await these bright students upon the completion of their coursework. There are about 180,000 secondary students and 45,400 post-secondary students currently enrolled in CTE programs in Alabama. According to the U.S. Department of Education, CTE participants at the secondary and postsecondary levels in the state have ranked at least ten percent higher than the national level when it comes to their performance in these programs. It’s clearly evident that Alabama’s CTE system is succeeding, but this should never hinder us from putting forth our best efforts to make improvements.

The enactment of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act in 2018 reauthorized the federal stream of money so many CTE programs depend on. Last year, Alabama received a total of $21.4 million in funding to support these quality programs.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Geneva High School for the Career Tech proclamation signing. I appreciated seeing firsthand the value these programs have in our local communities. It is evident that the CTE programs across our state are providing a well-trained workforce meeting the needs necessary to continue with our nation’s positive economic progress.

The momentum in Alabama is incredibly strong as we work to provide a well-trained workforce in related industries. Our youth are the future of our workforce, and it’s critical we do all we can to ensure they have the education they need in order to succeed. Governor Ivey recently proclaimed February as Career and Technical Education Month, encouraging educators and industry leaders to participate in order to demonstrate the importance of CTE programs. It’s crucial our students are well-resourced with the knowledge, skills and experience they need to jumpstart their careers. I will remain committed to the significant work happening across our state and country, and I’m hopeful that we will continue to see an increased number of opportunities for young Alabamians.

Representative Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

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