Today, Congressman Fred Keller (PA-12) announced that leading short-term education and training programs endorsed the CHOICE Act, a bill Congressman Keller introduced with Madison Cawthorn (NC-11) to allow students in short-term occupational programs to qualify for the federal Pell Grant program and other need-based assistance under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. Specifically, the CHOICE Act works to increase access and participation in vocational, skills-based, on-the-job, and other workforce readiness programs and prepare students to meet the challenges of America's workforce.
On their endorsement, Congressman Keller made the following statement:
"A major concern we are hearing from businesses across central and northeast Pennsylvania is a lack of skilled workers able to fill in-demand positions that are available right now. The CHOICE Act works to address this problem by increasing the enrollment of occupational programs and preparing students for careers that are in-demand, good-paying, and help our communities grow."
Aaron Shenck, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Association of Career Schools (MAACS)
"The country's economy and higher education system is ever-changing, but COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the pace of change. Countless employers need skilled labor to fill job needs and Americans are increasingly more interested in shorter-term education and training programs that can teach them specific skills and efficiently prepare them for a career with less student debt at the end. We commend Congressman Fred Keller for recognizing this and for introducing the CHOICE Act, which would better align federal student aid to this reality by expanding eligibility to shorter-term vocational programs."
Jennifer Hain, Administrative Director, SUN Area Technical Institute
"Here at SUN Area Technical Institute and career and technical centers across the State of Pennsylvania provide quality programs leading to stackable industry credentials for high school age youth and adult learners. Employers utilize these programs to re-tool their workforce at an affordable rate and quickly pivot with emerging technologies in the field, leading to a competitive advantage. We commend Congressman Keller for working to provide affordable opportunities for individuals to invest in their futures through affordable programing and support public schools that are in direct alignment with the needs of local business and industry."
Alice Davis, Executive Director, Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center
"The CHOICE Act would help get skilled workers faster into the high-in-demand positions in business and industry, also allowing short-term programs a quicker turnaround of highly skilled workers. Most importantly, this bill would afford students financial help by cutting down on their overall debt load and gain a self-sustaining wage sooner."
Mike McMonigal, Supervisor of Adult & Post-Secondary Education, Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology
"America's economy is ever-changing and we must continue to find innovative ways to meet the needs of tomorrow's workforce. We commend Congressman Keller for working towards this goal by introducing the CHOICE Act, legislation that expands opportunities for students interested in vocational education, equipping them with the necessary skills to meet workforce demands and drive our nation's economic success."