The House Workforce and Talent Development Committee Tuesday unanimously approved legislation by state Rep. Beau LaFave, giving high school students the opportunity to earn course credit for completion of an internship or work study program.
“Employers across the state need students with real-world abilities. For far too long we have over-emphasized college readiness to the detriment of the skilled trades,” said LaFave, of Iron Mountain. “Many high school students start career development before they graduate. This program will encourage students to take advantage of opportunities in their own backyard because career exploration and on-the-job training is also part of education.”
LaFave pointed out that his legislation will help fill the growing demand across Michigan for skilled trades professionals, giving students in the Upper Peninsula and across the state more education outside of the classroom.
Current Michigan Department of Education guidelines allow work-based internships in grades 9-12. His legislation will streamline this process and cut unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy. Students can work four to 10 hours a week and, with the local district board of education’s oversight, will receive credit for graduation.
The two-bill legislative package also safeguards funding for school districts, allowing students participating in internship or a work experience program off campus to continue to qualify as a full-time student.
During today’s committee testimony, LaFave shared letters of support from the Gladstone, Carney-Nadeau and Breitung Township school districts. Also supporting the legislation are the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Association of School Administrators, Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Great Lakes Education Project.
“Education does not begin and end in the classroom,” LaFave said. “This legislation puts students into an environment where they can grow while learning specific skills and possibly explore a career option.”
House Bills 4106 and 5676 advance to the House for its consideration.