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U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez recently joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to  discuss returning trade skill training and technical education back to our nation’s schools.

Sec. Perez explained in the not-so-distant past, “We as a nation devalued over a series of decades … devalued career technical education, we called it shop.”

“Today’s CTE is so different and we have an opportunity in Congress this year to reauthorize the Perkins Act, which is the opportunity to rethink, reimagine and reinvent career and technical education,” said Perez.

With a new focus on career technical education, Perez said “opportunities abound.” In North Carolina, the investment in CTE is paying dividends. According to Perez, career technical education and apprenticeship combined are leading individuals to acquire IT skills “because those are the skills for tomorrow.”

Martin reminded viewers these types of jobs are “jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.” He added, “If you need an electrician or a plumber, somebody fixing your car — you won’t be calling China or Indonesia.”

“The good news is that companies are seeing that,” Sec. Perez said. “We’re building the skills super highway for the 21st century.”

In reimagining CTE, Perez said the Labor Department is working with the Department of Education to bring forth the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act as the reauthorization of the job training program. Sec. Perez added, it “is a joint venture between the Department of Labor and the Department of Education.”

“We are helping people from cradle through career make sure that not only do they have the skills to compete for today, but they have the capacity to adjust to tomorrow,” Sec. Perez said.

He continued, “Today is the cloud and in five years the cloud will look like the abacus, we have to train our workers today with the fluency to adapt to the changing technology.”  

The Labor Secretary said, “We have a remarkable set of opportunities, because we are the strongest nation on this planet and we have the best workforce on this planet, and we need to continue that investment in our human capital and we need to make sure that zip codes never determine destiny in this country.”

Watch Roland Martin and U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez discuss returning technical education as well as training to our nation’s schools in the video clip above.

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