Washington, DC – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley announced an education-to-jobs package to better connect students to careers. Merkley’s bills, introduced today in the U.S. Senate, would protect students from predatory for-profit colleges peddling degrees that do not actually lead to jobs, and improve access to middle and high school career and technical programs that provide in-demand skills.
“I know that our students have the talent and motivation to succeed in life, but it’s up to us to make sure they also have the skills,” said Merkley. “We need to better connect our education policies to the reality of the job market. The economy is changing rapidly and we owe it to young Americans to make sure students are prepared to thrive when they finish school.”
Merkley’s Protecting Students from Worthless Degrees Act would cut off access to federal financial aid for programs that purport to train students for careers that require a credential, but that are not accredited and whose graduates are therefore unable to work in the field. The BUILD (Building Understanding, Investment, Learning, and Direction) Career and Technical Education Act would fund the restoration and modernization of traditional “shop classes” in middle and high schools to give students technical skills sought by employers.
Merkley was the first in his family to go to college and is known as a strong advocate for education. His focus on connecting educational opportunities to in-demand careers arose in part from his “Made in Oregon” tour, during which he has heard repeatedly from employers who have trouble finding skilled labor.
The education-to-jobs package continues Merkley’s focus on restoring opportunity and income growth for middle-class Americans.