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Gillibrand pushes bill to provide funding for manufacturing training

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

BINGHAMTON — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D–N.Y.) is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that would direct federal funding to high-tech training and education programs in high schools and institutions of higher learning.

The Democrat contends it would give more students the opportunity to learn the skills “necessary” to obtain good-paying jobs in the high-tech manufacturing sector. 

The bill is known as the “21st century strengthening hands on programs that cultivate learning approaches for successful students act,” also known as the Shop Class Act. 

U.S. Senator Todd Young (R–Ind.) is a cosponsor of this bill, according to Gillibrand’s office. 

U.S. Representatives Tim Ryan (D–Ohio), Steve Stivers (R–Ohio), Mark Takano (D–Calif.), and Susan Brooks (R–Ind.) introduced a version of the bill in the House of Representatives as well.

Gillibrand discussed the legislation during a Nov. 20 visit to the Broome–Tioga BOCES in Binghamton.

Technologies like three-dimensional (3D) printers, laser cutters, and computerized machine tools are “increasing the need” for specialized training for manufacturing jobs. 

To prepare students with the skills needed for high-tech jobs, the legislation would amend the Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act to give “greater priority” to funding maker education, the development of maker spaces, and training for teachers in the application of maker education, according to Gillibrand.

“Many manufacturing companies in our state have job openings with good salaries, but they can’t fill them because too many workers haven’t had the opportunity to learn the skills they need to take on those jobs. We need to fix this,” Gillibrand said in a news release. “I’m proud to introduce new bipartisan legislation to make sure tech-ed classes are teaching students how to use the latest high-tech tools, like 3D printers, that manufacturing companies expect them to know how to use. Our students should be able to take many different paths in order to get a good job and earn a good salary, and this bill would help equip more students with the skills they need to get on a path toward good-paying high-tech jobs when they graduate high school.”

Providing students with access to equipment such as 3D printers and laser cutters is “critical,” according to James Mullins, assistant superintendent of Broome-Tioga BOCES.

“It is vitally important that students continue to learn on the latest state-of-the-art technologies, in order to be successful in the ever changing global business world. This will offer our students the skills necessary to prepare them for the high-demand career opportunities available,” he said in the Gillibrand release. 

CTE programs

Career and technical-education (CTE) programs at the high school and community-college level provide training and education for “in-demand, good-paying” jobs in industries ranging from manufacturing to health care to computer programming. 

Gillibrand’s release listed statistics indicating what the lawmaker contends is the “importance” of CTE programs.

CTE high school and post-secondary programs in New York had an estimated 377,000 students enrolled from 2015 to 2016. During this same period, more than 1,500 high-school students in Broome and Tioga counties participated in career and technical education. 

Technical-skill jobs that require a high-school diploma but not a four-year degree make up the “largest part” of the labor market and “close to almost half” of job openings in New York state through 2024, according to Gillibrand’s office.

The overall number of technical-skill jobs is expected to increase by an estimated 2,750 positions in the Southern Tier by 2022, the office added.

The investment in vocational education would give more students the technical skills needed for good-paying jobs, offering “hands-on learning experiences for students to use high-tech industrial tools to create and innovate,” per Gillibrand. The approach to technical education “will offer more opportunities to inspire the next generation” of manufacturing workers and entrepreneurs. 

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