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Career and technical education bill passes U.S. House

Legislation with bipartisan support offers path for those with autism to prepare for employment
September 13, 2016

Washington, DC - Today the U. S. House voted 405 to 5 to approve H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, legislation that would reauthorize career and technical education (CTE) programs and help students with autism gain skills necessary for employment.  

With approximately 50,000 people with autism entering adulthood each year in the United States, access to employment opportunities and pre-employment or transition programs, like CTE, are critical. Youth with disabilities are more likely to be successfully employed if they have acquired work and skills training during their secondary school years. 

H.R. 5587 ensures that schools provide work-based learning to help students acquire employability and technical skills. The bill would also increase access to earlier career exploration and guidance as well as improve coordination with existing pre-employment and transition programs. 

The legislation cleared the House Education and the Workforce Committee earlier this year with unanimous support and was sponsored by Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), co-chair of the House CTE Caucus, and Katherine Clark (D-MA).

Autism Speaks applauds the passage of H.R. 5587 in prioritizing accessible and inclusive career and technical education programs. Autism Speaks advocates will continue to work closely with members from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee on introducing the Senate reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.  

“The House passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act is a decisive step forward by Congress to provide accessible education and a path to employment for individuals with disabilities and autism," said Angela Geiger president and CEO of Autism Speaks. “We are thrilled that members of both parties have come together to prioritize future independent living opportunities for individuals in the autism community. Our advocates look forward to working closely with the Senate to move this critical legislation to the president’s desk.”  

All students deserve educational opportunities that best prepare them for the next step in life after secondary school, whether it is continuing education or a career. For many Americans, employment is a critical part of fulfilling and productive lives.

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