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Rep. Craig Staats: Governor signs Staats bill to overhaul career and technical education, promote workforce development

HARRISBURG – This week, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law a bill sponsored by Rep. Craig Staats (R-Bucks), which represents the most significant reform of Pennsylvania’s career and technical (CTE) education laws in more than 30 years.

Act 76 – 2019 is an omnibus bill aimed at enhancing career and technical education, job training and workforce development that will help to prepare Pennsylvania students for the workforce and attract employers and economic development to the Commonwealth,” said Staats.

“I am particularly proud of a provision in the bill that I advanced, which will provide high school and college students with access to information regarding the transfer policies of other educational institutions,” Staats said. “Act 76 expands an existing searchable online database at the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to provide students with information on the transfer policies between public schools and institutions of higher education, helping them to avoid spending thousands of dollars on coursework and materials only to learn that credits will not transfer to certain institutions.”

The new law requires school districts, intermediate units, vocational-technical schools, charter schools and cyber charter schools – as well as Northern Pennsylvania Regional College, state-related institutions, and Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, to submit their transfer agreements, known as articulation agreements, to PDE for inclusion in the database.

Act 76 also establishes an online career resource center; surveys existing workforce development programs that emphasize business-education partnerships and develops best practices to enhance these efforts. It also requires occupational advisory committees to be established at Intermediate Units (IU) to ensure that industry standards are properly integrated into career and technical instructional programming; and creates a grant program for pre-apprenticeship programs for the purpose of establishing or enhancing workforce development partnerships between schools, employers, organizations, or associations to create pathways to learn a trade and ultimately provide employers with a trained workforce.

In addition, it requires a school entity to treat career presenters equally and requires the Commission for Agriculture Education Excellence to develop guidelines identifying the circumstances when a student, who successfully completes an academic course, program or activity for credit, may apply the credit toward completion of an agriculture education program. It codifies PDE guidelines regarding Career and Technology Education Equipment Grants and includes that grant awards can be used to purchase an entire set of tools. It also requires PDE to issue guidelines and update the guidelines every five years identifying the circumstances when a student, who successfully completes a course, program, or activity in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) for credit may apply the credit toward the completion of a course, program, or activity offered by any career and technical school, technical institute, or vocational school or department.

Media contact: Donna Pinkham, 717.260.6452, dpinkham@pahousegop.com

PA Workforce Development Association