The Association for Career and Technical Education joined forces with colleges and businesses to discuss the impact of a $138 million reduction in federal funding for career and technical education programs.
"This is a very critical juncture," said Dave Bunting, executive director of the association's Iowa chapter. "We're taking away the investment in our future."
Bunting was among the officials who visited the TH on Wednesday to discuss the reduction in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, including the elimination of the Tech Prep program, which helps high school students start a college technical program.
According to the association, Iowa will lose about $1 million, Wisconsin about $2 million and Illinois about $7 million.
Southwest Technical College in Fennimore, Wis., will have a 10 percent funding reduction and $113,589 for the Tech Prep program eliminated.
"That's a big chunk in one year," said Joyce Czajkowski, chief academic officer/dean of business and management at Southwest Tech. "More people do more, or you have to cut something you're doing."
At Southwest Tech, there will be a reduction in nontraditional occupations and reappropriation of funds.
Northeast Iowa Community College will have a reduction of $26,000 in funding and $72,000 for the Tech Prep program eliminated.
"We'll see a reduction in funding, but try to minimize the impact," said Curt Oldfield, vice president for academic affairs at NICC.
At NICC, there will be cuts to nontraditional occupations, not as much career preparedness offered and less spent on equipment. NICC will absorb the elimination of funds for the Tech Prep program for the upcoming school year.
Both officials said the reduction will slow down their ability to develop new programs and impact the number of available workers.
Kelly Cooper, executive director of the Dubuque Area Labor-Management Council, said she has seen a shortage in CNC operators, welders and industrial maintenance workers in the area.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in April that career and technical education programs need to make a convincing case for funding and strengthen the programs' rigor and relevance.
Southwest Tech has a 91 percent retention rate, and all graduates get jobs within six months. NICC has a 76 percent retention rate, and 91 percent of graduates get jobs within six months.
"I don't know what other convincing case you can propose," Oldfield said.
The reduction might not be the last. Duncan said in April that President Barack Obama has proposed more reductions for next year.