National Skills Coalition Statement on the PROSPER Act of 2017 – a bill that would reauthorize the Higher Education Act

December 01, 2017

National Skills Coalition issued the following statement from Kermit Kaleba, Federal Policy Director:

“In an economy where four out of every five jobs requires some postsecondary education and training, Congressional efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act should be focused on supporting the needs of today’s working students, and should better align postsecondary investments with labor market demand so all students can choose to earn certificates, credentials, and degrees that lead to in-demand jobs.

Unfortunately, the PROSPER Act falls short of the mark. While the bill makes some changes to expand financial aid to short-term and competency-based programs that help students get and keep well-paying jobs, it does little to ensure industry engagement or to make sure that credentials meet employer demands. The bill also eliminates or reduces a number of key student support programs that are particularly important for working adults and the majority of today’s college students, and fails to make needed changes in the way we measure and report student outcomes.

It’s also disappointing that the bill is being offered without bipartisan support, given the clear interest from both sides of the aisle in strengthening higher education policy. A poll released last week by Civis Analytics found that 86% of the general public see postsecondary education (a college degree or a trade certificate) as key to getting a good job, with consistent support across party lines. If higher education is a bipartisan issue for the American people, it should be a bipartisan effort by Congress, too.”

The PROSPER Act does offer some potentially useful investments in work study, apprenticeship, and other workforce development strategies that would make it easier for individuals to get the skills and credentials they need to advance their careers.

National Skills Coalition looks forward to working with Chairwoman Foxx and other members of the House Education and Workforce Committee to build on these investments and improve this legislation to ensure that we are doing the best we can for our students, institutions and communities.”