The state House of Representatives passed House Bill 646 ApprenticeshipNC on Monday by a 111-6 vote, addressing a growing demand for skilled workers with legislation to help train North Carolina students for high-paying jobs.
Sponsored by Rep. Susan Martin (R-Wilson), Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union), Rep. Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth) and Rep. Mark Brody (R-Union), House Bill 646 would “coordinate workforce education and customized training tools to fill talent pipeline gaps with local business and industry.”
The legislation would place the administration of “ApprenticeshipNC” within the Community Colleges System Office, where existing infrastructure is in place to connect students with stakeholders working in local industries. The program is currently administered by the state Department of Commerce.
The bill’s supporters point to the program’s growth potential and the need to place students into advanced manufacturing, healthcare and information technology industries that offer high-paying jobs.
“Improving our workforce and providing students with 21st-century skills is a top priority,” said Rep. Susan Martin (R-Wilson). “House Bill 646 will help students realize their professional potential at an earlier age by increasing student engagement in apprenticeship programs.”
House Bill 646 allows ‘ApprenticeshipNC’ to be marketed as a component of work-based student opportunities in community colleges that also include internships and co-operative learning programs across North Carolina.
Currently, 55 of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges enroll students in work-based learning programs, and much of the related instruction for the ApprenticeshipNC program is already provided by the North Carolina Community College System.
House Bill 646 would officially place ApprenticeshipNC under the community college system, which is better equipped to train students to qualify for state and industry-recognized credentials.
“House Republicans are committed to educating North Carolina students through real solutions that accommodate work-based training and facilitate job placement in a rapidly changing economy,” said House Speaker Tim Moore.