On Wednesday, April 29, the House of Representatives passed House, Education & Welfare Chairman Joseph M. McNamara’s (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) legislation (2015-H 5895) that permits students under 18 years of age who are attending career and technical education schools to participate in career and technical internships or teacher supervised job site training programs. The bill amends the Career and Technical Education section (Chapter. 16-45.1) of the Rhode Island General Laws.
“Before today’s vote, a student learning a trade at a technical school, by state law, was not allowed on an actual job site to learn their trade if under the age of 18. I have always found this to be such a wasted opportunity for our young future workers. A simulation in a classroom cannot compete with the educational value of on-site and hands-on job training and internships,” said Chairman McNamara.
At the bill’s hearing before the House Committee on Health, Education & Welfare on April 15, John Simmons, Executive Director of RIPEC, testified in favor of the legislation. “If Rhode Island is to compete in the global economy, it must have a skilled and educated workforce. Our state’s career and technical education system represents one piece of the overall workforce development system and we must do everything possible to ensure that it adequately prepares our students for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Simmons.
Joining Simmons in showing support for the legislation was all twenty-five members of the Rhode Island Business Coalition and the Rhode Island Department of Education.
“The earlier we can equip our young people with the necessary skills they need in the workforce, the more time they will have to hone and sharpen their craft. By opening up these internships and job-site training programs to younger students, we are giving them a competitive advantage against students in our neighboring states,” added Chairman McNamara.