The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act (Perkins IV) was originally authorized in 1984, and most recently reauthorized in August 2006. The purpose of Perkins is to provide individuals with the academic and technical skills needed to succeed in a knowledge- and skills-based economy. Perkins supports career and technical education that prepares its students both for postsecondary education and the careers of their choice.
Career and technical education is about helping students, workers and lifelong learners of all ages fulfill their working potential. First and foremost it's about high school and college education that provides students with:
- Academic subject matter taught with relevance to the real world, often called contextual learning.
- Employability skills, from job-related skills to workplace ethics.
- Education pathways that help students explore interests and careers in the process of progressing through school.
But career and technical education is also about:
- Second-chance education and training for the unemployed and those seeking to upgrade their employability skills.
- Education to earn additional degrees, especially when related to career advancement.
- Corporate training, continuing education, skills upgrades and refresher courses for those already in the workplace.