Tuberville: “We Need to Train Kids for the Future Workforce”

Tuberville pushes for more workforce development programs in high school, pushes back on idea of free college

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) today highlighted the need for greater workforce development programs in American education during a hearing in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Sen. Tuberville spoke of the urgent need for students to be exposed to quality career paths beyond a traditional four-year college degree, and raised concerns on the ramifications of a tuition-free college system. Excerpts from Sen. Tuberville’s line of questioning can be found below and the full video can be found here.

On beginning workforce development in high school

TUBERVILLE: “Workforce development has been huge on my agenda for years. I’ve been in education for 40 years, traveling the world and traveling the country trying to help kids get jobs. I will say this. I’ve noticed, you know, our four-year universities have become businesses instead of education institutions where we get them prepared for a job.”

“We need to train kids for the future workforce, and we need to get them to the point where they know how to use their hands, know how to use their brains, and understand work and work ethic.”

“A twelve-year system, to me, is outdated… We get to the last 11th and 12th grade of their years, and they’re taking activity courses, study halls, and we’re not preparing them. I truly believe that we need to teach them something in the last two years of their high school to get them involved in something they can get interested in, whether it’s woodshop, welding, nursing, cooking – and teach that, and teach them how to do things like that. Am I on the right track there?”

MARIA FLYNN, JOBS FOR THE FUTURE: “I think you’re on absolutely the right track. I think that really we need to be thinking about pathways that really span from 9th grade up through sort of ‘grade 14’ – so four years of high school and two years of post-secondary training. Really embedding that high quality work-based learning in high school is key.”

“I also think we need to be looking at how to continue to address the, I think, outdated and somewhat unfair stigma around Career and Technical education. So, how can we help educate students and parents and school leaders about these great opportunities that are in the skilled trades.”

On Motivating the next generation workforce after the pandemic

TUBERVILLE: “We’re coming out of a pandemic, hopefully, and we hear we’ve got six, seven percent unemployment – that’s wrong. We’ve got millions of jobs out there right now. Number one, people aren’t looking for jobs; people are sitting at home. But that being said, I’m not worried about those people out there now that are out of school. I’m worried about the kids coming up and being motivated to say, “I want to go make a great living. I want to start a business.”

“How are we going to get kids motivated after this pandemic?”

DR. RALLS, WAKE TECHNICAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE: “I think you’re on the right track. I think we have to look for those places where students can apply [themselves] not just learn the theoretical, and I think that’s something of what you’re talking about. I think also you noted the notion between making the connections between high schools and college and community colleges. When we talk about career pathways or when we talk about ladders at my institution, it’s not just our career pathways, it’s their career pathways and that really starts in high school.”

On the shortcomings of universal “Free” college

TUBERVILLE: “The only thing I worry about free tuition for junior colleges, and really for four-year schools, is the part of learning how to go out on your own; how to learn how to be responsible for yourself. If something’s free, you don’t work as hard. We’ve all found that out and I think if you’ve got skin in the game then it’s pretty hard to quit. It’s pretty hard to kick the can down the road, and I think you will both agree. We need kids to learn how to work, that’s the number one thing I think we need to do.”

Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.