Ivanka Trump: Skill-based education is crucial to putting more Americans on a path to promising careers

Earlier this week, I visited students in Iowa at the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center. It was incredible to see firsthand how high school juniors and seniors are solving real-world challenges while learning how to code, program robots, develop electrical and plumbing systems, and pioneer innovations in bioscience.

The students who attend the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center enter the workforce equipped with the skills they need to secure good-paying jobs and succeed in our modern economy.

Skill-based education is crucial to putting more Americans on a path to promising careers – and filling the jobs of the future, as well as those that are vacant today. Yet for too long, we have failed to recognize the importance of practical, skill-based learning.

The Trump administration is committed to expanding 21st century opportunities through affordable workforce development programs.

In addition to the many administrative actions we have taken to advance workforce development, the president’s recent infrastructure proposal, sent to Congress last month, would greatly amplify and expand this effort.

Currently, there are 6.3 million unfilled job openings in our country – the highest number on record. Of these, 250,000 are in construction; 427,000 in manufacturing; and more than 500,000 in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). These are among the most critical industries in rebuilding our country’s crumbling infrastructure.

Not only would our infrastructure plan generate new projects that directly increase employment in construction and other affected industries, it would also break down barriers for American workers to get the training they need to be successful in the jobs we need filled.

Our infrastructure plan calls on Congress to refine and reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act; expand Pell Grant eligibility to high-quality, short-term programs; and reform licensing requirements for individuals seeking an infrastructure project job.

Further, our plan seeks to improve the Federal Work-Study Program by better distributing funds to the schools and students who need them most, and by creating more opportunities for participants to obtain relevant workplace experience that will place them on a better path to meet their career goals.

The talent, grit and spirit of the American worker have always defined our nation and enabled us to compete and lead in the global economy.

With the goal of growing the American economy through pro-business policies and job creation, the Trump administration’s robust plan aims to deliver education to Americans across the country that is better skills-focused and often debt-free.

Now Congress must follow through and invest in our nation’s most important resource: our people.