Workforce Development and Budget Updates

Workforce Development

The U.S. Senate passed a resolution earlier this month designating February as Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month. The resolution may be found here. Among other things, the resolution recognizes the importance of career and technical education in preparing a well-educated and skilled workforce in the United States and encourages educators, school counselors, guidance and career development professionals, administrators, and parents to promote career and technical education as a respected option for students.

In the House, Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI)—co chairs of the House Career and Technical Education Caucus–introduced an identical resolution to celebrate February 2022 as CTE Month. The resolution highlights the impact of career and technical education programs on learners at all levels, as well as the role of CTE in supporting industries seeking to fill positions in high-demand, high-skill, and high-wage jobs and career fields.

In addition, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing titled “Supporting Quality Workforce Development Opportunities and Innovation to Address Barriers to Employment.” The hearing featured four witnesses from different regions of the country to discuss their experiences with workforce development programs and their recommendations to confront the nation’s skills gap.

Each witness emphasized the need to support sector-based training models and industry or sector partnerships to bring businesses of all sizes together with education providers. These partnerships would increase employment opportunities for workers, as well as support learning on the job, including through work-based learning, apprenticeship, and incumbent worker training.

Government Funding

The House and Senate have been on recess this week, with Senators and House Members back in their states and districts. Before leaving town, Congress approved a Continuing Resolution to keep the government and all of its departments and agencies funded through March 11. This action will provide a narrow window for Congress to finalize a Fiscal Year 2022 omnibus appropriations package. Specifics of that package are expected to be released in the next week or so, as Congress returns to Washington on Monday. One of the provisions that is expected to be reauthorized as part of this process is a policy rider long supported by the wood building products sector. The provision directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Energy to recognize the carbon neutral nature  of so-called “biomass” in any environmental or energy policymaking at the federal level. The term “biomass” includes sawmill residuals that are routinely used to heat and power wood building products manufacturing facilities.