Harder Introduces Massive Trades and Career Education Package

July 23, 2019
Press Release
Bills Tailored to Grow Jobs, Opportunity in Central Valley by Tackling Underinvestment in Skills Education

WASHINGTON – After meeting with Central Valley students and parents, local educators and business leaders, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) introduced a massive bipartisan career education package designed to grow jobs in the Central Valley. The package consists of three bills, each of which addresses different needs within the career and trades education space. The federal government currently spends eighty times as much on four-year degrees as skills education.

“I’ve heard loud and clear from the Central Valley that we need more good-paying jobs here at home. I believe one of the ways we do that is by expanding educational opportunities to give our families in-demand skills so they can stay and work here in the Valley,” said Rep. Harder, a member of the House Education and Labor Committee. “We have to start investing in trades and career education and stop telling our kids the only way to the middle class is through a four-year degree. My bills are designed with the Central Valley in mind and will build out successful programs that are already here in our community.”

“San Joaquin County public schools strive to offer our students a wide range of educational programs that will help them succeed in their future careers – whether that means preparing for a four-year college, an apprenticeship, or other kinds of career education,” said James Mousalimas, County Superintendent of Schools, San Joaquin County Office of Education. “Rep. Harder’s bills broaden our education focus to help ensure we can meet these goals and would provide our local schools with the federal support we need to get that done.”

“In today’s rapidly changing job market, every American must have access to education that will enhance their career readiness, whether it be students in middle and high schools, students in college, or students returning to the classroom as adults,” said Dr. Scott Siegel, Superintendent, Ceres Unified School District. “Congressman Harder’s package of education bills contains concrete initiatives to help students achieve academic goals that will support their career readiness, whether that be working toward a four-year degree or building vocational skills.  As a school district superintendent who is focused on preparing students for a successful future, I believe these bills are an excellent step toward ensuring a competitive, vibrant workforce.”

Rep. Harder is introducing three bills designed to grow jobs and opportunity in the Central Valley by educating a highly-skilled workforce with expertise tailored to local and regional needs.  


Bill #1: The School to Career Pathways Act

The School to Career Pathways Act would give students more opportunities for hands-on career education starting in elementary school. The program will ensure states have the resources to create comprehensive, locally-tailored career connected learning programs with local businesses for students in the Central Valley. These include apprenticeships, comprehensive internships, and other real-world experience opportunities.

Rep. Harder’s bill would support Pathways Programs like those offered at James Enochs High School in Modesto, which Rep. Harder had the chance to visit this year. Through the program, students have the opportunity to get hands-on experience through internships with local businesses which often become paid positions. Among other career paths, Enochs offers courses in the printing trades, biotechnology, and pre-veterinary science.

“We’re proud to offer innovative career pathway programs at Enochs high school that allow our students to get hands-on experience in real-world job settings – and we could use even more federal support for these efforts,” said Amanda Elledge Moore, Principal, James C. Enochs High School. “I want to thank Congressman Harder for introducing legislation to promote career and trades education and providing students with even more opportunities.”

The bill would also support programs like Ag In Motion (AIM), operated by the National Ag Science Center in Modesto. The program brings a mobile classroom to every seventh and eighth-grade classroom in Stanislaus and South San Joaquin counties. The Center also recently partnered with Stanislaus State to bring AgScience Ambassadors to elementary school classrooms.

“The National Ag Science Center is excited about the direction of the education initiatives focusing on career pathways specifically in agriculture in the Central Valley,” said Dr. Emily Lawrence, Executive Director, National Ag Science Center. “We are ready to get involved in systemic efforts to bring the importance of agriculture to our students.”

“The Carpenters Union, along with the building trades, have a track record of promoting effective career pathways programs with high schools and other partners across the state, but we could use even more support for these efforts. Four-year colleges receive substantial investments, but not nearly enough has been done in the area of career education,” said Robert Alvarado, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council. “We thank Congressman Harder for leading the way in prioritizing the trades with innovative new programs and we are proud to support his legislation.”


Bill #2: START Career Pathways Act

The START (Short-Term Accelerated Reskilling Tracks) Career Pathways Act will increase funding for community college partnerships with local industries and allow students to receive Federal Pell Grants for short-term certificate programs. Usually, Federal Pell Grants are awarded only to undergraduate students, however, Rep. Harder’s bill would expand eligibility to short-term job training programs.

The bill would support programs like those at Modesto Junior College (MJC) which are targeted at local industries. Students seeking certifications at MJC for irrigation design or management, mechanized agriculture operation, heavy machinery management, or landscape design are currently ineligible to receive Pell Grants for these programs.

“California Community Colleges serve as a beacon of hope to many members of our communities in search of a better life,” said Dr. James Houpis, President of Modesto Junior College. “Many of our students are first-generation and working to break cycles of poverty in their families. We are always in favor of any legislation that makes investments not only in our students and their employment but also in our communities. We need more support for career and trades education.”


Bill #3: Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act

The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act would invest in and expand funding for dual-enrollment and stackable credit programs for high school students. Dual enrollment programs, like those run by MJC, allow students to earn college credits while in high school. The bill is cosponsored by Republican Tom Reed of New York and is endorsed by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and the National Education Association (NEA). Stackable certification programs allow students to earn a certificate or associates degree at a community college and return later with their credits counting towards their terminal degree. California State University Stanislaus and MJC collaborate on existing programs including “Warriors on the Way,” which promotes MJC’s associate degrees for transfer (ADTs).

“We care about ensuring students have access to high quality education to advance their careers at a fair cost,” said Rep. Reed. “With the costs of community college classes being far more reasonable than those of a four-year schools, this bill not only makes dollars and cents, but gives our kids a heads up on college classes before they even graduate from high school.”

“We applaud Congressman Harder’s focused efforts to further define the pathways toward academic success with the refreshing of the Higher Education Act, especially as those efforts support dual-enrollment classes,” said Dr. Ellen Junn, President of California State University Stanislaus. “We know that most students in dual-enrollment courses enter college with at least nine units of college credit, which not only makes them far more likely to succeed in college but dramatically improves their opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree in four years.”

"To address workforce shortages in virtually every sector of today's economy, it is vital to increase access to college credit for high school students," said LeAnn Wilson, Executive Director of the Association for Career and Technical Education. "Through high-quality career and technical education programs, students can begin to earn credit in high school for credentials that are both stackable and lead to high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand careers. We commend the bill's sponsors and support the Making Education More Affordable Act.”