Senate bill aims to steer students to in-demand careers
- A bill introduced June 18 in the Senate aims to identify and develop best practices to train school counselors in elementary and secondary education on career paths for students. The Supporting Useful Career Counseling in Elementary and Secondary Schools (SUCCESS) Act of 2018 would create grants for public school systems to do so.
- Grants would be provided to schools to help them consult with state or local boards to assess business needs and trends locally and regionally, and to develop best practices to train counselors on their findings.
- The grantees would be required to develop training materials, modules and curriculum and implement those within a year of receipt of the grant. The aim is to improve or build apprenticeship programs, short-term credentials and training programs in skilled-job fields that can lead to work in-demand occupations.
Multiple industries have felt the pang of the nationwide skills gap: from careers in IT to manufacturing, business need workers, and skilled ones at that. In manufacturing alone, an estimated 2 million jobs will go unfilled by the year 2025. And despite the benefits jobs may entail — some welders, for example, can earn $90,000 annually — they're often neglected by educators.
The federal government has highly recommended apprenticeship programs, and states are answering the call; California, for example, recently announced the highest number of active apprentice programs in the state's history. In addition to recommendations for these programs in skilled trades, the U.S. Department of Labor even suggested they could benefit the food and retail industries.
As factories, in particular, struggle to find skilled workers, the brain drain caused by their aging, retiring workforce could spell disaster if remedies aren't identified and acted upon. The SUCCESS Act appears to be yet another way stakeholders are working to solve the skills gap puzzle.