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Brief Bites

Brief Bites are video summaries of the brief. If you wish to quickly consume the information in the brief watch a brief bite by clicking on the icon. They will be located in each section of the brief.

In today’s bitterly divided Congress, legislation to bolster career-connected learning (CCL) is attracting unusually high levels of bipartisan support. With Republicans narrowly controlling the House and Democrats narrowly controlling the Senate, bipartisan bills are the only ones that can pass.

CCL differs from a traditional college education by emphasizing skills development more directly relevant to the work people do in their careers. Also called workforce development, career development, skills education, or career and technical education (CTE), these programs often focus on preparing people for immediate employment in high-demand professions that require specialized skills and knowledge. Common careers that can be pursued through CCL include those in the construction trades, health care, and in newer industries like computer programming, information technology, and clean energy (see the call out boxes throughout for examples in each area).

This brief moves from a general to a specific investigation of legislation to advance skills education that is being seriously considered in Congress. We start by reviewing the case for and against increased federal support for career development education broadly.

The brief then moves to consideration of what is often called Workforce Pell or Short-Term Pell legislation. Although other types of career and technical education bills are being discussed, Workforce Pell currently has the broadest bipartisan backing and greatest prospects for passing. Bills in this category would provide greater financial support for Americans enrolling in recognized CCL programs by making them eligible for Pell Grants. These grants are the most common source of federal support for education beyond high school and do not need to be repaid.

The review of Workforce Pell legislation starts with the general arguments for and against it. We conclude with a review of the case for and against the most important Short-Term Pell specifics where there is not yet agreement in Congress.