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Viewpoint: Rep. Kind's PATH to success for Wisconsin students

Wisconsinites know that today's economy and jobs are more diverse than the options that were open to our parents and grandparents. In order to make sure Wisconsinites are prepared for good-paying jobs, I am unveiling my Education Action Plan which equips Wisconsin students for success with preparation, affordability, training and high-demand jobs (PATH).

For many of our students, they start preparing for a job and higher education in high school. We need to give our rural schools and teachers the resources they need to prepare their students for the next step. This means walking students and parents through the wide array of options, putting in place apprenticeship programs, and making the process of applying for and filling out financial aid forms easier.

Throughout my many conversations with Wisconsin students and families, the No.1 thing they tell me is that it is not getting into an education program that is the hardest part but figuring out how to afford it. We need to make sure that all students have access to affordable financial aid programs to help pay for their education.

While receiving a degree or certificate is important, we need to make sure that Wisconsinites are getting the training and skills that are in high demand with employers. I have talked with many employers across western and central Wisconsin who have open jobs but can't find people with the skills they need to fill them. We need to partner students, education programs and businesses to make sure these jobs are filled.

In the coming months, as Congress works on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, I look forward to working with my colleagues, students, parents and educators to pass policies that prepare Wisconsin students for success in their education.