Retailers urge Congress to reauthorize Perkins Act

WASHINGTON – The National Retail Federation and more than 200 business groups today urged Congress to pass legislation that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

“Employers are reporting a shortage of skilled workers to fill in-demand positions,” NRF and the other groups said in a letter. “Modernized and relevant career and technical education programs designed with the input of employers and responsive to the needs identified by labor market data are central to overcoming this skills gap.”

The groups called career and technical training “an effective tool for improving student outcomes” that “helps prepare both secondary and postsecondary students with the necessary academic, technical and employability skills required to be successful in the workforce.” The training prepares students for college and careers and “is critical to meeting the needs of this new 21st century economy,” the letter said.

The letter was sent to members of the House of Representatives, who are scheduled to vote this afternoon on the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.

The action in Congress comes as the NRF Foundation is implementing RISE Up (Retail Industry Skills and Education), a new training and credentialing initiative developed with dozens of retailers and non-profits that was launched in January. The program is intended to help individuals acquire skills needed to secure jobs in retail and advance into careers regardless of their education, background, economic means or age. RISE Up is designed to build competencies and pathways for the retail workforce of the future from in-store to digital and mobile commerce. 

About NRF
The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. Based in Washington, D.C., NRF represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.