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U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. took a break from campaigning to take a victory lap through a York-based precision stamping business in celebration of a career technical education bill that was signed into law in late July.

The two-term Democratic incumbent running for re-election was accompanied by local officials and business leaders Monday, Sept. 17, at Tooling Dynamics, a microprecision metal stamping company in York City.

Casey said the bill was an "ultra-rare" example of bipartisan cooperation in Congress: Republican Sen. Mike Enzi from Wyoming also sponsored the bill that President Donald Trump signed into law July 31.

Casey is running against Republican Rep. Lou Barletta of the state's 9th District — previously the 11th District prior to congressional redistricting by the state Supreme Court in February — and Dale Kerns of the Libertarian Party in the upcoming November election.

More: Editorial: Don't settle for less on redistricting

But Monday he stepped away from campaign lingo to highlight his legislation that provides federal resources for CTE providers nationwide.

The bill is the first reauthorization of the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act since 2006, which encourages states, schools and CTE providers to further develop education and job-training programs to meet the needs of modern, local economies.

The act first became law in 1984 under President Ronald Reagan with the goal of supporting CTE training in hopes that encouraging individuals to delve into the field would benefit the U.S. economy.

The act had been updated twice prior to the most recent reauthorization.

"We're learning the importance of career technical education," Casey said. "We can make it possible to make an on-ramp to jobs, so (people) can get the skills and education they need to get the jobs in this plant."

Casey cited Bureau of Labor Statistics data, saying that 54 percent of jobs in the state require some sort of post-secondary education and training — excluding bachelor's degrees and above — but only 43 percent of workers in the state are qualified to fill those jobs.

As a result, Casey said, passing the legislation was just a step in the right direction to training and hiring workers for "the growing economy."

"Even with the reauthorization of Perkins, we have to make sure we are implementing it well so we can produce the workers that we need for the manufacturers in the state and grow those numbers," he said.

The message resonated well with Tooling Dynamics, a company that employs about 200 individuals, said operations manager Tyson Berkey, adding that the company has struggled with filling positions locally.

"It's been a real challenge to fill the skilled-labor positions that we have in this company," Berkey said. "Tool makers are the primary skilled function that we need, and that is not a position that you can just hire directly out of school. It's been difficult to get people interested."

Berkey added that the company often uses in-house apprenticeships to train new employees, which would benefit from the federal funding provided by the reauthorization of the Perkins Act.

 

 

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