There’s no question that apprenticeships offer students exceptional opportunities to learn in high school and beyond. They offer students low-debt, high-salary career options, which are desperately needed in America today. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of publicly accessible information and data that measures student participation, outcomes and gaps when it comes to apprenticeships.
That’s why I recently introduced the Career and Technical Education Outcome Data Enhancement (CODE) Act of 2019, which would improve data collection between the federal agencies that oversee apprenticeships: the Department of Education and the Department of Labor. My bill directs the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Labor to form a task force dedicated to studying federal data collection related to student participation and performance in career technical education programs. As with all federal programs, we need to focus on measuring progress through data, instead of blindly spending taxpayer dollars.
I’ve visited several area high school career technical education programs and witnessed firsthand how valuable these programs are to the next generation of American workers, which is why we must have data to measure progress and improve performance. This is especially important as the number of apprenticeship programs are growing in many states across the country. In North Carolina alone, there are over 500 apprenticeship programs offering students opportunities to learn skills in a variety of fields, from advanced manufacturing to medical coding.
Nearly 40% of high school students bypass college every year. This number is even higher in rural areas of the country. This is why I believe Congress should require more information on academic outcomes when it comes to apprenticeship programs. More data will translate to more study and better outcomes for students in our community.
I want to make sure that the students pursuing these opportunities have the option to participate in top-notch programs with high financial upside, and I believe my bill would help move us in the right direction. Specifically, my bill would require the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Labor to report back to Congress within one year on ways to improve apprenticeship programs.
Supporting workforce development is truly a no-brainer for me, and I will continue to look for ways to open doors for students from all backgrounds.