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Apr 28, 2016

TECH Careers Act to Help More Americans Break into High-Paying Fields

Legislation Supports Job-Training Programs at Technical and Community Colleges

Reps. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), Jim Himes (CT-4), Joe Courtney (CT-2), and Mike Quigley (IL-5) today introduced the Technical Education Creates High-Paying Careers (TECH Careers) Act, a bill to expand innovative community college and technical programs so more Americans can break into high-demand fields with good-paying careers.

The TECH Careers Act provides federal support for job-training programs at technical and community colleges that provide wrap-around services and apprenticeship programs for students. By creating partnerships with industry representatives, these job-training programs help students complete their technical education with well-established relationships with employers in their industry.

“For many Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, earning a postsecondary certificate or degree is the ticket to the middle class. But too many low-income and working-class folks simply don’t have access to technical certifications or two-year degrees,” Esty said. “The TECH Careers Act will open the door for more Americans to have successful, middle-class careers and help small businesses in Connecticut and across the country access a qualified pool of talented workers. If we close the skills gap and raise folks up into the middle class, everyone benefits.”

“As we move toward the almost complete integration of technology into our lives – everything from our cars to our watches to our homes seems to be connected – the jobs involved in the creation, construction, and maintenance of these technologies are going to be some of the most stable and well-paying in the coming years,” Himes said. “Many of these jobs are non-exportable and represent a new base of livable wage employment. Through the Tech Careers Act and other smart investment, we can ensure young people are prepared for these jobs.”

“I am pleased to support the introduction of the TECH Careers Act today with Rep. Esty,” Courtney said. “While we know that individuals with postsecondary degrees earn substantially more than those without a degree throughout their lifetime, pursuit of an undergraduate degree is simply not the right course for every person. In the future, many more young Americans will gain some postsecondary education by attending a local community college or a technical school. In Connecticut, with Electric Boat poised to make nearly 1,500 hires in 2016, and the nearly 500 parts suppliers that support EB growing alongside the shipyard, we need more residents than ever being trained for advanced manufacturing careers. The TECH Careers Act will provide an entirely new path for many young Americans to obtain a postsecondary certificate or degree that will help raise them up into the middle-class.”

“When I was sworn in to Congress in April of 2009, we were at the height of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then, but there is still plenty of work to be done,” Quigley said. “We must strengthen our education and skills-training programs so that Americas are prepared for the jobs of today’s economy. Today, I’m proud to introduce the TECH Careers Act with Representatives Esty, Himes and Courtney, which supports job-training programs at technical and community colleges, helping qualify students for high-demand fields and better paying careers.”

“Naugatuck Valley Community College is grateful that Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Congressman Joe Courtney, and Congressman Jim Himes continue to be champions for STEM and Manufacturing educational opportunities that support pathways for low-income and working-class students to pursue higher education and employment in this critical field,” said Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D., President of Naugatuck Valley Community College.

“The TECH Careers Act will strengthen our economy by helping more Americans find meaningful employment and creating a larger, more diverse skilled workforce for businesses in Connecticut and throughout the country,” said Matt McCooe, the Chief Executive Officer of Connecticut Innovations. “CI is working with the state of Connecticut to expand our world-class education system by building partnerships between the education and technology sectors, and the TECH Careers Act will meaningfully help us in these efforts.”

“As a high tech hub zone based Connecticut small business, Jonal Laboratories, and its woman-owned partner company Jonal Labs Logistics, have a regular need for new degreed and certified technical talent,” said Marc Nemeth, President of Jonal Laboratories, Inc. “We at Jonal Laboratories believe in strong public private partnerships to support this need and Congresswoman Esty’s TECH Careers Act will focus resources to open career pathways for students locally to meet our needs. Jonal recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and is planning for at least another 50 years in business and we will require this level of talent for generations.”

"This bill recognizes the importance of continued investments in partnerships between community colleges, employers, and other key stakeholders to ensure that local businesses can find the skilled workforce they need to compete and that students can get the industry-recognized credentials that can support career advancement,” said Mark E. Ojakian, President, CT State Colleges and Universities. “We are pleased to work with Congresswoman Esty, Congressman Courtney, and Congressman Himes to promote student success through this exciting legislation."