Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) has introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at growing jobs in the Central Valley through career education and apprenticeship programs.
Goals of the three bills included in the legislation package are similar to those of a new apprenticeship program launched by Katerra, which will open its Tracy building component fabrication factory in September.
In fact, a member of Harder’s Washington staff, when told of the Katerra program, said contact would be made with Katerra to explore ways the proposed federal programs would complement those of the private firm.
Harder, in announcing he would introduce three bills dealing with needs of the career and trades education, pointed out that the federal government spends 80 times as much on four-year degrees as it does for skills education.
“I’ve heard loud and clear from the Central Valley that we need more good-paying jobs here at home,” he said in his news release. “I believe one of the ways we do that is by expanding educational opportunities to give our families in-demand skills so they can stay and work here in the Valley.”
One bill would promote career education beginning in elementary school and create “comprehensive, locally tailored career-connected learning programs with local businesses.”
“These include apprenticeships, comprehensive internships and other real-world experience opportunities,” Harder said.
A second bill would increase funding for community college partnerships with local industries and allow students to receive federal Pell Grants for short-term certificate programs.
The third bill would expand funding for “dual-enrollment and stackable” credit programs for high school and community college students.
Dual enrollment would give students the ability to earn college credits while in high school.
The stackable program would allow students to earn a certificate or Associate of Arts degree at a community college and then permit them to return later with their credits counting toward a terminal degree.
The third bill is being co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Reed (R-New York) and supported by the Association for Career and Technical Education.
All three bills were referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor on Tuesday. Harder is a member of the committee.