During our high school years, many students can feel a sense of anxiety or stress about their future. Some of us were lucky to find a mentor; that coach, teacher, or close friend who helped inspire and guide us into our career path. Other students, unfortunately, never receive that guidance or support they need, and do not have the opportunity to explore and find that passion before entering the workforce or attending college. Businesses similarly can have that same anxiety preparing for a new generation of workers with their own unique skills, talents, and challenges.
Earlier this year, I sponsored Senate Bill 166 with the goal of helping young people to find their “student purpose” and identify the career paths they feel passionate about. S.B. 166 was passed by the legislature, was signed by the Governor, and will go into effect on March 23rd of this year.
As the bill sponsor, my intent is to help streamline the currently awkward relationship between the business world and the education world. Students are put on an educational pathway that creates disinterest in school, fails to provide specific career paths, and produces unconscionably, disastrously high remediation rates. Ohio has such a great need for qualified, ambitious workers in various industries and career-fields, but it can be difficult for business and educators to connect and ensure that students are being taught the skills necessary to get a job and succeed post-graduation. Senate Bill 166 will allow student-workers as young as 15 years old to participate in work-based learning experiences. The program will encourage employers by offering tax and insurance incentives to hire career-technical education program students. It will also allow school districts to offer driver’s education courses, and to give graduation credit for completion.
By enabling students to safely get hands-on experience in various, high-earning career fields at younger ages, we will help them identify what they want to do in life. At the same time, we are helping schools identify what kinds of skills and training they need to provide students in order to help them achieve career-success. Businesses will benefit by gaining access to competent, aspiring, and motivated workers. Furthermore, by promoting driver’s education courses, this legislation empowers students with the ability to transport themselves to their job sites. This includes a driver’s license obtained through a course offered by a school district as part of an industry recognized credential.
College is not a one-size-fits-all pathway, and far too many students are incurring large amounts of debt simply because they think college is the only way to build a fulfilling career. Students are being dissuaded from pursuing career-tech, and are often unaware of the high-earning opportunities it can lead to. With such an incredible need to fill skilled, high-wage jobs such as mechanics, nursing, and more, I would highly encourage each of you to reach out to your local school or career-technical institution of choice and start working with them on a program that can work for your child and help them to find their “student purpose”.
This is an excellent opportunity to for our students to get invaluable, real-world experience and for local businesses to discover bright young talent and increase productivity. If you have questions, or would like to find out more about how Senate Bill 166 can help you, please feel free to reach out to my office at 614-466-8049 or at Reineke@ohiosenate.gov.