IT GIVES me great personal satisfaction to approve this legislation. It will expand educational opportunities at the grade school level, at the college level, and at the vocational school level.
This bill, like the bill I approved on Monday, is dramatic evidence of our commitment to education as the key to our social and economic and technological and moral progress. As I said then, this Congress has justly and fully earned the title of the Education Congress of 1963. It has enacted more significant education legislation than any other Congress in our entire history.
So it pleases me to congratulate Senator Morse and Senator Hill and Congressman Perkins and Congressman Powell and all of their colleagues, including Cabinet members, in this administration for their combined successful efforts in getting this legislation through the Congress and up to where we are signing it this morning.
Modern demands upon labor and industry require new skills and an upgrading of old skills, require more education and greater knowledge. It has been said that we need over 100,000 technicians a year just to meet our needs in the engineering field alone but all our present programs combined, we are told, turn out a maximum not of 100,000 a year but only 20,000 technicians a year.
We believe that this new law will help close this gap. Under this law high school students will be encouraged to stay in school. If they need financial assistance, they may receive it under a work-an&study program. Some of the most delightful years of my life were spent with the work-an&study program called the NYA where thousands of young men in high school and college were brought into a work-and-study program, and some of those men are today the leaders of this Nation.
For the first time Federal funds are going to be available to construct new vocational schools. Demonstration and research projects authorized under this law will vastly improve the quality of our vocational training. Where there is severe unemployment and high numbers of school dropouts, special experimental programs of residential vocational education schools are authorized. In addition, the amendment to the National Defense Education Act will make possible immediate loans to 70,000 needy college students not able to obtain such loans today.
Finally, the extension of the program of aid to schools in districts affected by Federal activities will permit a continuation of Federal assistance where we have a special responsibility. I believe that this measure, together with a Manpower Development and Training Act, places us in a position to make a major attack on one of the most important obstacles to economic growth and productivity. It is a reaffirmation of our conviction that education is the cornerstone of our freedom.
I also want to observe that the leaders and members of both parties in the Congress have been interested in this legislation throughout the years and have made contributions to bringing it to the position it is today, and I welcome the Democrats and Republicans and all true friends of education to this ceremony.