Assemblyman Santabarbara Pushing for CTE Diploma to Close ‘Middle Skills Gap’ and Prepare Workers for Today’s Manufacturing Jobs

During a recent visit to New York, Vice President Biden observed that there are currently too many jobs in specialized fields that remain unfilled because our workforce doesn’t have the required skills – and he’s right. Many manufacturing jobs of the past didn’t require as much skill, as they did hard work, but that’s no longer the case. Today’s manufacturing jobs, and those of the future, demand specialized training and often in-depth knowledge. These jobs are becoming a prominent aspect of our economy, especially here in the Capital Region and Mohawk Valley, but their rise has created a “middle-skills gap.” There is an abundance of jobs that don’t necessarily require a four-year degree but require more than a standard high school diploma. And unfortunately, many workers don’t possess the essential skills for these jobs, and our education system isn’t yet suited to prepare students for them. I’m working to change that, though, by sponsoring legislation that would create a Career and Technical Education Pathway to a high school diploma and provide funding to train workers in the advanced manufacturing field (A.8189-A, A.7673).

Implementing a Career and Technical Education (CTE) curriculum would greatly benefit our students. Those who choose to earn a CTE diploma would gain valuable experience in the technology and manufacturing fields. CTE diploma recipients would graduate high school already prepared for entry into the workforce, harnessing the training they need to secure a good job. They would have the opportunity to begin careers in booming fields like nanotechnology, high-tech manufacturing, welding, plumbing and cybersecurity. Students with a CTE diploma would be prepared for these jobs, and the gap between vacant positions and worker skills would close.

College is not for all. By offering students the option of a CTE diploma, we will be granting them another pathway to a successful career that doesn’t include obtaining a college degree. Further, career-focused classes and an eased transition into the workforce would encourage more students to stay in school, reducing high school dropout rates.

It is not only necessary to provide our students with the needed skills to excel but to also provide opportunities for specialized training to adults who are already in the workforce. With technical and manufacturing jobs booming in our region, now is the time to arm our workers with the skills that are required of jobs in the 21st century. We cannot let them miss out on lucrative job opportunities. The legislation I’m sponsoring would do just this – supply funding to educational institutions, not-for-profits, industry public-private partnerships and individuals for the training and certification needed to enter into the field of advanced manufacturing. The cost of specialty training courses, like the ones this legislation would fund, is often too pricey, deterring workers from entering this field. These training programs would also provide an incentive for businesses to put down roots in New York State – a workforce with the necessary skills would be available.

By funding technical education and establishing a CTE diploma, we would be giving our workforce access to a wider variety of skills and strengthening our local economy. Our community needs this. For more information on this or any other community issue, please contact my office at 843-0227 or via email at