By State Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill/Dauphin)
Jobs, jobs, jobs. If you’ve heard that phrase once, you’ve heard it 100 times. It’s one of the most talked about issues in our country right now, including right here in Pennsylvania. As the markets have seen good days in the last few weeks, our national economy is still in recovery mode, and many Americans are still looking for family-sustaining work.
President Donald Trump and his new administration have been discussing plans to create millions of new jobs in the coming years. Reports tell us the president has been actively talking with manufacturers to create and retain jobs in America. Here at the state and local levels, it is important for us be educating our future workforce so that we have skilled workers to fill those jobs.
Our kids need to be informed and aware of the career possibilities that are out there, and they need a clear path to be able to complete the training. That is the goal behind legislation Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and I recently reintroduced. The bill seeks to provide career and technical education (CTE) students with greater flexibility in fulfilling their high school graduation requirements.
House Bill 202
would allow these students to demonstrate proficiency on exams developed by the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) in lieu of demonstrating proficiency on a Keystone Exam.
I have been focused on connecting our business, education and government communities for several years. When I talk with business owners, they tell me they don’t ask prospective employees what they scored on their Keystone Exams; they care that these men and women are skilled and knowledgeable in the field they are seeking to enter. That is simply common sense.
We sponsored similar legislation last session, and it passed the House unanimously. I am hopeful it will be positively received again this session and ultimately signed into law.
Just last week, I was named chairman of the House Education Committee’s Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness, a position I am very grateful to have. The four-year, “one-size-fits-all” college path is not for everyone. We must expand the conversation to include all education and career pathways. Projections show a great need for the skilled trades including welders, plumbers, mechanics and other modern technical careers. Building awareness for students, teachers and parents of the great value of skilled trades and technical work is critical, and will a main focus of mine as chairman of this select subcommittee.
My overall goal is to improve Pennsylvania’s economy by strengthening the vocational education system. The issue is that job creators and manufacturers need more people in the skilled trades. The solution is that the government needs to support those who create jobs, remove road blocks for the future workforce and create incentives for success. I look forward to continuing to work very closely to accomplish positive results.
Representative Mike Tobash
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Krisinda Corbin