(LANSING, MI.)–The state Senate today overwhelmingly approved state Rep. Beau LaFave’s plan allowing high school students to earn course credit through an internship or work study program.
LaFave emphasized his legislation can help fill the growing demand across Michigan for skilled trades professionals, while giving students in the Upper Peninsula and across the state more education outside of the classroom.
“Employers need students with real-world experience,” said LaFave, of Iron Mountain. “For too long, our state has over-emphasized college readiness to the detriment of the skilled trades. This can help shift the focus, encouraging students to take advantage of opportunities in their own backyard because career exploration and on-the-job training is also part of education.”
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 the guidelines that students can work four to 10 hours a week and will receive credit for graduation. The internship may be paid or volunteer, but must be approved by local district board of education.
The legislative plan 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.
“This opportunity can help students decide what they do or do not want to do for the rest of their lives,” LaFave said. “I know firsthand this will encourage students to take advantage of professional opportunities in Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties. Education does not begin and end in the classroom, so I’d expect this will expand possibilities for all high school students in Michigan.”
LaFave noted he had 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 Boards, and the Great Lakes Education Project.
House Bills 4106 advances to the governor for consideration.