Skip to content

Peters, Young Introduce Bill to Narrow Skills Gap & Meet Workforce Needs

Bipartisan Bill Strengthens Training for School Counselors on Benefits of Career & Technical Education

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Todd Young (R-IN) today introduced bipartisan legislation to expand opportunities for students in career and technical education (CTE) by increasing training and awareness for school counselors. The Supporting Useful Career Counseling in Elementary and Secondary Schools (SUCCESS) Act would use existing funds to help develop and identify best practices for career counseling training programs based on local and regional employment needs.

“I’ve heard from small business owners across Michigan that are looking to hire more workers but are having difficulty finding employees with the necessary skills to fill vacant positions,” said Senator Peters. “Technical education is an effective way to narrow the existing skills gap, and this bipartisan legislation would increase awareness of CTE as a pathway toward success and good-paying jobs for Michiganders.”

“School counselors play a vital role in setting our students on a path toward success. We need to support our counselors by providing them the tools they need to prepare students for the careers of tomorrow. That is why I joined Senator Peters in introducing the Supporting Useful Career Counseling in Elementary and Secondary Schools (SUCCESS) Act,” said Senator Young. “This legislation would help identify effective ways our counselors can prepare the students of today for the jobs of tomorrow by providing them with opportunities suited to their needs.”

According to the Joint Economic Committee, there are more than 44 million middle-skill jobs – or careers that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree – in the United States. More than one in three of the top 30 fastest growing occupations are considered middle-skilled occupations. In Michigan, 36% of jobs are middle-skilled, with the average middle-skill salary at over $44,000 and projected job growth at 7%.

However, many school counselors are not currently trained to advise students on postsecondary programs outside of the traditional four-year college pathway that could lead to good-paying jobs and minimize debt. Additionally, counselors often lack high-quality options for training in CTE counseling.

The SUCCESS Act would authorize the U.S. Department of Education to award already-existing Perkins fund grants to counselor training programs to:

  • Assess local and regional employment needs
  • Develop career counseling training programs based on those trends
  • Carry out programming at counselor training sites.

The best practices developed by grant program awardees will then be disseminated by the Secretary of Education to the public and relevant stakeholders. They will aim to improve counselor awareness of postsecondary programs outside of the traditional four-year college path and how students can finance these postsecondary options to minimize debt.

“By 2020, the United States will be short five million workers with post-secondary training,” said Dr. Laura Owen, Director of the Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success. “Elementary and Secondary school counselors play a significant role in how students are exposed to careers, receive pertinent employment information, and engage in postsecondary planning. However, lack of school counseling resources and professional development impede their ability to adequately provide the support students need to navigate their postsecondary options. Not only will this bill provide the training necessary to strengthen career advising, it will help meet the projected economic needs of the nation.”

“Providing students with better career guidance and calling attention to multiple career pathways that lead to great paying, in-demand jobs will help close the talent gap in Michigan and across the nation,” said Roger Curtis, Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan Director. “I commend Sen. Peters for his work on the SUCCESS Act that will provide more resources for our counselors to better prepare our students for the high-wage, high-demand jobs of today and tomorrow.”

Other stakeholders in support include the National Skills Coalition and the American School Counselor Association.