Larsen Leads Bill to Improve Student Access to STEM Education, Jobs

May 1, 2015 Issues: Education, Jobs Labor and the Economy

WASHINGTON—Students would have better access to a STEM education pathway into manufacturing jobs because of a bill introduced today by Reps. Rick Larsen, WA-02, Jim McDermott, WA-07, and Paul Tonko, NY-20.

The Youth Access to American Jobs Act of 2015 would create ten pilot pathways that engage students in STEM-related fields from their junior year in high school through community college and into an apprenticeship. The bill facilitates partnerships between schools and apprenticeship programs to make sure students are gaining skills directly related to workforce needs in their area.

“America needs to be telling its young people we will invest in them. This bill does just that building a clear bridge between high school students and good paying jobs. Connecting today’s students with tomorrow’s skills is a critical investment in a strong economic foundation,” Congressman Larsen said.

“A fundamental element of any economic recovery involves education. Good paying jobs increasingly require some aspect of STEM education – both in new, emerging industries, as well as those in existing industries as they evolve. The Youth Access to American Jobs Act would help create a clearer path from the classroom to the workplace for today’s youth,” said Congressman McDermott.

“Each year that we neglect to make direct and creative investment in education and emerging careers is a year that puts us further behind in the global race on innovation and the nation’s growing need for STEM-educated professionals. This legislation will build a stronger foundation for a robust American manufacturing sector and a stronger economy for decades to come. I thank Representatives Larsen and McDermott for their leadership on this issue, and ask my colleagues to join us in helping students acquire the skills required today for job opportunities tomorrow,” Congressman Tonko said. 

The Act has support from Washington state Career and Technical Education (CTE) experts.

“Helping students gain STEM-related skills to succeed in manufacturing jobs is essential for our education system and our economy,” said Tim Knue, executive director of the Washington Association for Career and Technical Education. “We strongly support this bill because it links students with training tailored to meet the workforce needs in their area, from aerospace to medical device manufacturing. Students should have access to high quality Career and Technical Education opportunities to help them meet their career goals, and we hope Congress will pass this bill to make more of those opportunities available.”

The national Association for Career and Technical Education thanked the Representatives for their leadership on CTE issues.

“Congressmen Larsen, McDermott and Tonko have demonstrated exemplary leadership on Capitol Hill on behalf of CTE students and educators nationwide. We applaud their dedication to exploring opportunities to increase access to secondary and postsecondary CTE programs, which will help ensure that every student gains the education and skills today for the careers of tomorrow,” said LeAnn Wilson, Executive Director of the Association for Career and Technical Education.

The Youth Access to American Jobs Act of 2015:

  • Directs the Secretary of Education to award grants to ten partnerships among local educational agencies, community colleges, and state apprenticeship or labor-management training program.
  • Creates a pilot program with a 2-2-2 pathway for students starting their junior year of high school, taking them through community college and into an apprenticeship.
  • Emphasizes STEM and STEM-focused Career and Technical Education, programs that keep students engaged throughout their learning process, as well as giving them the scientific and practical skills they need.
  • Enables local education and apprenticeship systems to work together to prepare graduates for success in manufacturing careers with STEM skills.

A full summary of the bill can be found here.

Full text of the bill is available here.