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August 30, 2014

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Politics:

Rep. Heck to host forum on better equipping Nevadans for workforce

Congressman Joe Heck wants to know how Nevada can better train its workforce.

Heck, R-Nev., will host a congressional field hearing at the Southwest Career and Technology Academy today to seek input on how Nevada can improve its workforce development.

Political, education and economic leaders will discuss more equitable ways to redistribute career and technical education dollars. They also will talk about how Nevada can secure more workforce development grants from the federal government.

Currently, Clark County is shortchanged in federal funding for workforce training and career and technical education, Heck said. The distribution formula, developed under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, hasn’t been changed in more than a decade, penalizing states like Nevada that experienced great population growth, he said.

Heck has introduced legislation — Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act — to try to change how federal funds are distributed among states. The bill passed the House; it’s pending in the Senate.

“Our goal is to make workforce training programs more effective and align them more for the jobs of the future,” Heck said. “So far, we’ve trained people for jobs that were instead of jobs that will be.”

Heck said he hopes to see Nevada become a leader in aviation, national security and health care. He said training students for emerging fields begins at the high school level, with pre-professional programs at magnet, vocational and career and technical academies, and continues on at the community college and university levels.

Heck worked closely with Gov. Brian Sandoval's office in securing Nevada as one of six Federal Aviation Administration sites to test unmanned aerial drones. UNLV and UNR have introduced minor degree programs in unmanned drones to train students for this new field.

Still, Heck said Nevada isn’t getting enough federal money to educate its workforce for these jobs and get them jobs.

“Overall, Nevada has been a donor state. We get 65 cents back for every dollar we send to Washington,” Heck said. “We’ve got to do a better job so that Nevada gets its due from the federal government.”

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