Gillibrand comes to NFA to promote technical education bill

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Gillibrand told educators the CTE programs “are making a huge difference”

NEWBURGH – US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) met with teachers and students from Newburgh Free Academy’s Career and Technical Education Programs (CTE), Friday afternoon, to promote her new bi-partisan bill: The 21st Century Strengthening Hands-On Programs that Cultivate Learning for Successful Students Act.
The legislation is aimed at garnering more federal funding for CTE programs to go directly to high schools and community colleges across the state and nation, as well as ensure there are partnering businesses to hire the workforce that would be produced through these programs.
It would also amend the existing Perkins CTE Act to give greater priority towards funding such programs, the new technologies required for them and the teacher training necessary.
According to Gillibrand, almost half of job openings, predicted through 2024 in New York State will require technical skills that CTE courses offer. She said not only are these jobs in high demand due to technological skills gaps, they will offer decent, living wages.
Chase Conklin, an NFA senior who has his sights set on a career in architecture, was inspired through a series of CTE courses he took at NFA, one of which allowed him to be part of a team to design a concept vehicle that they used to compete in Detroit and London, England, with NFA placing 7th overall in April.
“This choice is a cultivation of everything I’ve learned while being involved in NFA’s several CTE programs and opportunities,” said Conklin. “Design and drawing for production, basic construction, computer repair, and welding, are all just the basic courses I’ve taken, but there are many more, such as auto mechanics, auto body and carpentry, which even have second and third year courses available.”
Gillibrand met some of the students from NFA’s 16 CTE programs and saw the car Conklin and his team built. She said it reiterated the importance of increasing the quality and availability of such courses to students across the state.
“The programs are making a huge difference,” said Gillibrand. “You can see it in the eyes of those kids that they’re actually getting to learn things they can use, skills they can actually use for new jobs- good paying jobs. If you just see how excited they are to compete worldwide, the thing they made, that amazing car, it’s wonderful. So, we need to make sure schools have the funding to actually have the equipment, so kids can learn on the most modern equipment, so they’re eligible for the right kind of jobs that they want.”
Director of Workforce Development and Apprenticeship Coordinator for the Council of Industry Johnnieanne Hansen added, being that there are now businesses interested in working with schools to supplement their growing workforces, the time is now for a bill of this kind.
“We have industry leaders, such as: Pratt & Whitney, or President Container and honestly, there’s 160 members and the list goes on and on and on, that are partnering with high schools, that are partnering with middle schools, that are sponsoring robot clubs and these industry leaders are saying, ‘We want to be in your classroom. We want to have these conversations. We want to make these relationships’,” said Hansen.
There hasn’t been a specified amount of funding for these programs through the bill as of yet; however, it is estimated that by 2022, the Hudson Valley alone will have an increase of 19,690 technical-skill jobs, many the current workforce are not qualified to hold.