Workplace options for more kids proposed in bill

Workplace options for more kids proposed in bill

(Calif.) After pouring more than $1 billion into career education initiatives, California lawmakers are now moving to open workplace programs to more students and also to lengthen the amount of time kids can participate.

AB 2063, which would lower the age requirement for enrolling in career technical education programs and nearly double the number of hours students can shadow business professionals, unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee Wednesday.

The bill, according to author Rep. James Gallagher, R-Plumas Lake, will give children the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons and apply what they learn in class to real-world experiences.

“This bill exposes students to CTE at a younger age, thus allowing them to explore more career options and giving them additional work training hours they need to launch their careers or further their education,” Gallagher said in a statement.

Increasing the number of opportunities for students to experience worthwhile job training during their formative years has been a priority for many lawmakers in recent years. Since 2014, more than $1 billion has been appropriated in California for Career Pathways Trust and Career Technical Education Incentive Grant programs through the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Districts that received the grants were expected to expand or create high-quality CTE courses and career pathway programs through partnerships with community colleges and business and industry leaders to provide more students with varied workforce options.

Currently, in order to enroll in work experience programs such as apprenticeships, vocational education or job-shadowing, students must be 16 years old. Additionally, job shadowing for the purpose of exploring different career opportunities cannot exceed 25 hours in any given semester.

School principals may certify that a student under 16 can begin a workplace program under limited circumstances, such as a requirement under a pupil’s individualized education plan or a need for a student to work in order to support themselves or their family.

AB 2063 would open up the opportunity to students 14 or older in order for them to participate in a career technical education program.

The bill would also allow students to enroll for up to 40 hours in work shadowing programs, as opposed to the current 25-hour per-semester maximum. In addition to classroom instruction, such programs provide career guidance and a chance for kids to explore different interests and options.

“These programs help students choose a career path based on their skills and interests,” Gallagher said in a document submitted to the education committee. “Exposing students to career technical education at a younger age is crucial.”

California is one of a handful of states that has taken steps this year to increase access to career technical education. In Colorado, students who successfully demonstrate career readiness can earn their schools up to $1,000, while Virginia students can earn career credentials during their final two years of high school.