House Bill 4106, introduced by State Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, would allow juniors and seniors to receive graduation credit for an internship that lasts the same length of time as a traditional course in the school districts. Students would have to attend the internship four-10 hours per week. Internships could be paid or unpaid.
The bill also allows the school board to have oversight of the internship to ensure that the pupil is meeting requirements. The bill also allows the board to deny credit under certain circumstances, such as the student not being on track to graduate in four years or if the internship is not consistent with a student’s graduation requirements.
A companion bill, HB 5676, would tweak the law so students participating in internships would still count as full-time students. This bill also passed the House and Senate.
“Employers need students with real-world experience,” LaFave said. “For too long, our state has over-emphasized college readiness to the detriment of the skilled trades. This can help shift the focus, encouraging students to take advantage of opportunities in their own backyard because career exploration and on-the-job training is also part of education.”
Although current Michigan Department of Education guidelines allow work-based internships in grades 9-12, LaFave said his bill cuts through the administrative red tape to make it less prohibitive for students and school districts
More on-the-job training with high school students has been growing in popularity across the state, and across West Michigan. In 2016, Careerline Tech Center, Grand Rapids Community College and Herman Miller joined forces to launch a three-year early college program that allows high school students to begin college coursework and work at Herman Miller.
Holland Early College, which recently applied to be a locally controlled program, is also exploring the idea of having more career placement and internships with local businesses for its students.