The Indiana House of Representatives recently advanced legislation supported by State Rep. Beau Baird (R-Greencastle) that would expand work-based learning opportunities in high schools around the state.
Baird said House Bill 1002 would create Career Scholarship Accounts for Hoosier students to pay for career training, apprenticeships, certifications and internships. The legislation would also allow quality, work-based learning to count toward high school graduation requirements and create a framework for students to earn a post-secondary credential.
"There are many in-demand jobs you don't need a college degree for, but they still require training," Baird said. "Giving high school students more pathways toward internships and apprenticeships can make them better prepared for the workforce, and help employers find qualified candidates."
Baird said Career Scholarship Accounts could be used by sophomores, juniors and seniors to enroll in earn-and-learn opportunities, as well as to pay for items like transportation and uniforms to remove barriers to accessing these experiences. The Indiana Department of Education would approve available courses and tracks, and accounts would be awarded $5,000 under the recently proposed House Republican budget.
According to Baird, the proposed legislation could also incentivize schools and career centers to embrace more earn-and-learn partnerships. It would also task the State Board of Education with re-examining high school diploma requirements in order to provide more flexibility in a student’s schedule so they can pursue apprenticeships, applied learning experiences, work-based learning and credentials.
The legislation would also allow post-secondary scholarships, such as the Frank O'Bannon Grant and the 21st Century Scholarship, to be used for trainings provided by intermediaries, employers or a labor organization. Baird said this would provide additional opportunities for Hoosiers, who may not be interested in college, to use these funds to skill up and be prepared for the modern workforce.
House Bill 1002 is now with the Indiana Senate for further consideration.