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A bill on providing info on apprenticeship & job training programs gets full legislative support


A bill that would require the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) to provide information to students in high school about apprenticeships and on-the-job training has received unanimous support in both chambers of the legislature. Senate File 78 is sponsored by the Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development Interim Committee and was signed by the Senate President and House Speaker on Feb. 15. It passed the House on a 62-0 vote and the Senate on a 31-0 vote.

“The fact of the matter is only 60 percent of high school graduates go on to college, the other 40 percent go into the workforce, so this is an opportunity through the apprenticeship program to create a clearer, more clear path for these students to get into the workforce. Let's not impede that,” said Rep. Scott Heiner (R-Green River). “Let's encourage them through a workforce apprenticeship program to be able to pursue the kind of career that they want.”

It requires the DWS director to appoint a separate administrator for each of the divisions of the department that would provide information to school boards in each district. Those administrators would make sure the districts knew about the availability of registered apprenticeship programs, student learner programs, and on-the-job training. School boards would then distribute this information to the high schools in their districts.

“I believe this is a nexus to the generation coming forward and how we're going to deal with a major issue that we have in our state and I'll tell you what, we keep losing our kids, but apprenticeships, that's how we keep our kids,” said Rep. Jeremy Haroldson (R-Wheatland). “They're going to walk out of that classroom one day [with] the graduate certificate, and they're going to walk into the business they've been apprenticeshipping in, and they're going to have a job, and they're going to be bringing our young people back into the state.”

There was debate about having the apprenticeships be registered or unregistered and who students would be working alongside, such as employees of participating entities that may have employees that are registered sex offenders. And some lawmakers debated the differences between some of the language and job training programs for students and their purposes.

The amendment to remove ‘registered’ language failed in the House version to be removed from the bill. It will now head to Gov. Mark Gordon for his signature.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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