Job openings that require some training beyond high school but not a four-year degree are widely available. Candidates for those jobs are not. Two pieces of legislation are designed to change that.
A revamping of the federal government’s technical education programs is now much closer to reality.
A Senate committee has passed a bill reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, also known as the Perkins Act. This act is the primary federal law supporting career and technical education (CTE), providing approximately $1.2 billion per year for secondary and postsecondary programs. The House passed a companion bill in the summer of 2017 and has been waiting for the Senate to act.
The Senate bill is similar in many respects to the House bill, but there are some that will have to be resolved once the entire Senate passes the bill. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act is not expected to run into too much opposition on the Senate floor.
The bills make a number of changes to the current law. Both the House and Senate proposals, for example, would require state and local recipients of Perkins funds to submit a description of the work-based learning opportunities that will be provided to CTE students.
Meanwhile, legislation also is being introduced to boost CTE awareness. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current number of job openings is at a record 6.7 million nationally. Middle-skill jobs, which are defined as requiring some education beyond high school but not a four-year college degree, account for more than half of the jobs in the U.S., yet only 43 percent of all workers are trained at that level. The Career and Technical Education Research and Outreach Act, introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., on June 26, would look at ways to increase the number of workers trained for these in-demand jobs.
“Our education system is not one size fits all. We should be training and connecting our students to the jobs of tomorrow that businesses are creating today,” Klobuchar said. “This legislation will help us learn what forms of career and technical education are most effective and the best ways to involve schools, parents, guardians, and teachers to prepare their students for success.”
EPA Finalizes Mercury Reporting Rule
A host of fabricating manufacturers in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 332 (Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing) potentially could be affected by new requirements to report use of mercury and mercury compounds. That would include fabricated structural metal manufacturing (NAICS code 332312).
The reporting requirements, published in the Federal Register on June 27, are designed to help the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develop a more detailed inventory of mercury use in the U.S. That was required under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, enacted on June 22, 2016. The agency proposed a rule in 2017 with the final rule appearing on June 27. The first inventory will be published by April 1, 2020, barring bureaucratic holdups. It is scheduled to be updated every three years thereafter.
The EPA is establishing a July 1 reporting deadline for 2019 and every three years thereafter. Data submitted should cover only the calendar year preceding the year in which the reporting deadline occurs. For example, data for calendar year 2018 (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) is reported on or before July 1, 2019. Records relevant to a reporting year must be retained for a period of three years beginning on the last day of the reporting year.
Unlike information submitted to the agency’s Toxic Release Inventory, data on mercury will not be publicly accessible in an online database. As necessary, EPA will follow established publication policies to aggregate data for public release and will not compromise confidential business information.