ABC Pelican Chapter President Alvin Bargas discussed the importance of career and technical education (CTE) programs to the construction industry in testimony Sept. 20 during a congressional subcommittee hearing. Bargas began his testimony by painting a picture of Louisiana’s construction workforce challenge, in which project announcements in excess of $60 billion in new construction and the expansion of existing facilities are driving the need for skilled workers. In addition, he noted that retirements and career changes, among other factors, will drive demand for an additional 51,300 workers. “Even with an exploding demand for a skilled construction workforce, public high schools continue to focus on the four-year college prep curriculum,” Bargas said. “While this pathway is important, students should be offered opportunities to learn skills that prepare them for high paying, in-demand careers that do not require a bachelor’s degree.” Bargas noted that although CTE options are important, they must align with the industry workforce needs and post-secondary credentials and should never come at the expense of academic rigor. “Our challenge ahead is to focus our current resources to support CTE programs for in-demand industries that provide students with innovative and flexible training options that stretch from high school to advanced postsecondary credentials,” Bargas said. “This includes promoting new and existing partnerships between industries, government, and education providers while establishing clear accountability indicators and easily understood measures of success.” In his testimony, Bargas also highlighted Louisiana’s Course Choice program, which allows high school students to customize their learning path by gaining industry-based certifications, in addition to earning high school and college credit. ABC Pelican Chapter is a Course Choice provider offering electrical, pipefitting and welding to 34 students. More information is available in Bargas’ written testimony and more information on ABC’s construction training efforts can be found at www.workforceunderconstruction.com . Watch the archived video of the hearing here .