U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing a bill to fund more vocational education. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says Gillibrand is proposing a bill to direct more funding for high-tech training in high school and higher education.
“We really want to enhance education to meet the needs of the job market,” Gillibrand said Friday.
The senator used the Erie 1 BOCES Harkness Career & Technical Center in Cheektowaga as a backdrop to announce her bipartisan legislation.
The proposed bill would direct federal funding to high-tech training and education programs for high school students.
Harkness students training for a variety of vocations. Gillibrand wants more students to learn the skills needed for high-tech manufacturing jobs.
“A lot of times a kid will graduate from high school or college and not being able to find a job at all and there are so many jobs that are open. What makes sense is to train our children, train our young adults the skills they need for the jobs available and tech-ed is one of the set of skills that are among the most important skills that are needed for the fastest growing industries,” Gillibrand explained.
In Erie County more than 10,000 local high school students participated in career and technical education programs last school year.
West Seneca West High School student Steven Wood is in the electronics program preparing his resume.
“I am personally planning on trying to go to K-Technology for their employment, which has actually already employed three of the students here,” Wood remarked. “Companies such as Xerox, who have actually employed eight of the students from prior classes.”
Prior Aviation CEO Dave Mittlefelhldt partners with Erie 1 BOCES, providing an aviation technology program. He said it's been a huge success and there is a major need for pilots.
“The industry, right now, is forecasting a need for 87 pilots a day for the next two decades. That’s over 600,000 pilots,” Mittlefelhldt said.
There’s many other aviation areas that need workers.
“The trickle-down effect for the need for other aviation positions—supervisors, ground handlers, flight training personnel, control tower people, manufacturers, things of that nature—are absolutely tremendous,” Mittlefelhldt remarked.
"These jobs are really important and we rely on them every day,” Gillibrand said.
The bill is called the 21st Century Strengthening Hands on Programs that Cultivate Learning Approaches for Successful Students Act or ‘‘SHOP 6 CLASS Act’’ for short.