The state House today overwhelmingly approved legislation by state Rep. Beau LaFave, encouraging high school students to earn course credit through an internship or work study program.
“We must allow career exploration and on-the-job training to become an acceptable part of education,” said LaFave, of Iron Mountain. “Our high schools have two goals: to get students into college or prepare for a career right after graduation. Unfortunately, we have primarily focused on getting students – regardless of their interests or educational strengths – into college. That has been to the detriment of good paying skilled trade jobs. This program will encourage students to take advantage of professional opportunities in Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties.”
Although current Michigan Department of Education guidelines allow work-based internships in grades 9-12, LaFave’s bill cuts through the administrative red tape to make it less prohibitive for students and school districts.
The legislation also sets guidelines that 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 internship may be paid or volunteer.
The legislation also safeguards funding for school districts, allowing students participating in an internship or a work experience program off campus to continue to qualify as a full-time student.
LaFave sponsored the plan, noting the growing demand for skilled trade and technology professionals across the region and state. The House Workforce and Talent Development Committee agreed, unanimously passing the legislation last week.
“Education today goes well beyond what’s in the classroom,” LaFave said. “Real-world experience is crucial to both our job providers and students. We’ve got to encourage the opportunity to discover if a career they’re interested in is right before they get their high school diploma.”
House Bills 4106 and 5676 advance to the Senate for its consideration.