House advances Perkins Loan financial aid extension
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill last week to reauthorize the Federal Perkins Loan financial aid program for college students.
While the program is set to expire at the end of September 2017, the bill, Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353), would extend it for another two years. Sponsored by Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), the bill was approved in the House by voice vote.
“I hear from employers in Arkansas regularly about the issues they have filling important and well-paying jobs at their companies’ due to the ‘skills gap,’ which accounts for nearly six million unfilled jobs in the United States,” Rep. French Hill (R-AR), co-chair of the Congressional Skilled American Workforce Caucus, said. “Our challenge in Congress is alerting people that these good jobs exist and promoting policies that offer American workers and students different types of training to match our diverse job market. Today’s bipartisan vote is just an example of Congress doing our part to help our young people better prepare for their futures.”
Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), co-chair of the Congressional Skilled American Workforce Caucus, also supported the extension.
“In order to grow our country’s skilled workforce and close the skills gap, federal investment in high-quality career and technical education is a must,” Lawrence said. “This bill will help support skilled job education programs, apprenticeships, and ensure open doors of opportunity for historically underserved students.”
Over the next decade, the country will need to fill up to 3.5 million manufacturing jobs, Lawrence said. Approximately 2 million of those, however, will go unfulfilled due to a growing skills gap.
“The numbers are clear and the need is great. I am proud to support this legislation that helps to invest in American workers and strengthens us as a nation,” Lawrence said.