Bill expanding high school apprenticeship program becomes law
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Published: 12-May-2021
Staff Report 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sophomores will be able to participate in more school-sponsored career opportunities beginning with the 2021-2022 school year under legislation signed into law last week by Governor Kevin Stitt. 

Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, is the author of Senate Bill 619 allowing sophomores, 16 years or older, to apply for apprenticeships, internships, and mentorships through their school.

“The best way to really learn something is with hands-on, real life experience, and that’s especially true for students trying to decide what career to pursue. Senate Bill 619 will give them an extra year to learn about fields they’re interested in by allowing them to work alongside actual professionals who can mentor and train them,” Bullard said. 
“It’s one thing to see jobs on TV or read about them in books, but this program helps them learn what additional training or education they may need and what the daily demands are of the job to see if it’s really something they love and would excel at.”

Currently, only juniors and seniors can participate in the job training program. S.B. 619 will allow school districts to purchase liability insurance coverage to extend these career opportunities to sophomores. Schools cannot charge participants or their parents for the insurance. School districts are protected under the Governmental Tort Claims Act and any school board that does not obtain insurance will not be held legally liable.

Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, was the principal House author of the measure.
In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK.com, The City Sentinel newspaper and other news organizations, West said: “As a tradesman, I know the incredible value apprenticeships and internships hold for young people considering their next steps after high school. Getting more students into these programs at an earlier age will be even more beneficial in helping determine high school coursework and what higher learning options might be appropriate to help them achieve their future goals. This could be a huge workforce development program with no cost to the taxpayers.”

The new law, which goes into effect July 1, 2021, further directs the State Board of Education to review apprenticeships, internships, and mentorships to determine their eligibility for academic credit towards graduation requirements.

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