GA passes bill to increase high school to work programs

Your high schooler could be closer to getting a job right out of school. The General Assembly has passed a bill to help students who are not college bound to get apprenticeships that lead to jobs.

Many of these students are not only learning machinery and automotive skills at Henrico's Heritage Technical Center, they already have internships and apprenticeships with local companies, like senior Joshua Smith.

"I've been learning HVAC. It's great, hands-on type of work, a great career you can get into," he told us.

Senior Sam Tignor interns at Rolls Royce. "They're showing me things that I wouldn't learn anywhere else. It's one of the most premier companies in the world. They have million dollar machines that I'm working on."

Mac Beaton, Director of Career and Technical Education for Henrico County Public Schools explained, "Then what happens is this is a job interview for many of these kids. Many of these kids will go on and work for the company."

The General Assembly passed a bill directing the Department of Education to create guidelines for all high schools to develop apprenticeship and internship programs to give students a head start.

Republican Senator Dick Black of Loudon County sponsored the bill. "We want to get students in, get them trained, and give them opportunities that if they're not inclined to go on to college, we want them to be very successful, too."

Many schools like Heritage have apprenticeship programs already. But Black says this will get more schools helping many more students.

"It enhances it, it re-emphasizes it throughout the school system," said Black, "and I think in many parts of the state, perhaps it will trigger something that has never been done before."

The cost of administering this, Black says, is low and will be absorbed by the Department of Education. The payoff he says, more students like Joshua and Sam landing jobs right out of school.

Said Sam, "My internship runs out in June, and depending on how well I do there, I'm going to be offered a full-time position or move on to what ever is next in my life."

When asked if he feels confident he'll get the job, Sam responded, "Oh yah, it's fun."

Governor McDonnell's office says he is expected to sign the bill.

Henrico County Public Schools is holding an Internship Fair on May 7.