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Senate Approves Workforce Development Legislation

Statehouse main entrance.

Photo: (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

Lawmakers in the Senate approved a bill that includes pieces to amp up efforts to connect students with career and work opportunities.

Tuesday was the last day for lawmakers in the Senate to pass bills through the chamber, and their agenda included legislation to amp up workforce development in schools.

Highlights of the workforce development bill include the creation of a new role, the Secretary of Workforce Training, appointed by the governor. The secretary would also head a new State Board for Technical Education, which will work in addition to the State Department of Education, and existing Board of Education.

Part of the bill also requires schools to work with career and technical education programs, for students to earn credentials in their first year out of high school. That would start with the class of 2023, or this year’s seventh graders.

The measure also aims to connect schools with businesses for career coaching.

Sen. Doug Eckerty (R-New Castle), author of the bill, says that could help take some pressure off school guidance counselors.

“Our guidance counselors are pretty swamped with helping kids get on a college track, and with the emotional issues and societal issues, they’re just out of time,” Eckerty says.

But the number of moving pieces in the legislation as a whole didn’t sit right with Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Merillville).

“We have to figure out a way to get a little bit more streamlined,” Melton says.

The chamber also approved a piece of legislation to create a single high school diploma structure. The House approved a similar measure Monday.

Legislation around teacher licensing exam waivers and curriculum standards around employability – or soft skills – also passed. The bills now move to the House.

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