Press Releases

Larsen Introduces Legislation to Boost Access to STEM Job Opportunities

Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) today introduced legislation to help high school students access in-demand jobs related to growing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries by creating a pathway through community college and into an in-demand apprenticeship.

“U.S. students are no longer competing with their neighbors, but with students from around the world. Connecting young people with the skills needed to compete in the global workforce is a win-win-win for job seekers, the manufacturing sector and the U.S. economy,” said Larsen.

Washington state’s Career Connect Task Force connects young Washingtonians with the skills they need to pursue in-demand, growing STEM industry jobs. The Youth Access to American Jobs Act builds on this momentum by creating a six-year pathway for high school students training in STEM skills through community college and into a registered apprenticeship, preparing them for good-paying jobs in state-identified high-skill, high-wage or in-demand industries.

“Congress must tell young people we will invest in them through more skills training, high-quality K-12 education, access to STEM education and affordable higher education,” said Larsen.

The bill directs the Secretary of Education to award ten grants to support partnerships among local educational agencies, industry, community colleges and state apprenticeship or labor-management training programs.

Washington state continues to be a leader in STEM with more than 313,000 high school students and 165,000 two-year college students enrolled in Career and Technical Education programs. The bill emphasizes the importance of STEM and STEM-focused Career and Technical Education programs that keep students engaged throughout their learning process and provide students with scientific and practical skills.

Original cosponsors of the Youth Access to American Jobs Act include Reps. Tonko (NY-20), Norton (DC-at-large), Grijalva (AZ-03), McNerney (CA-09), Kuster (NH-02), Maloney (NY-18), Heck (WA-10), DeSaulnier (CA-11), Kind (WI-03), Jayapal (WA-07), DelBene (WA-01), Kilmer (WA-06) and Velázquez (NY-07).

Larsen first introduced the bill in the 2015 and has consistently been a proponent of STEM education. The bill is endorsed by SkillsUSA and the Washington State Association of Career and Technical Education.

Full text of the bill is available here.