HARRISBURG – The Senate approved a bill this week that would ensure students have access to a broader range of information about potential career and education options so that they can make informed decisions about their future, according to Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry).
House Bill 265, which was approved unanimously by the Senate, would require the departments of Education, Labor and Industry, and Agriculture to create the “The PASmart Online Career Resource Center,” an online clearinghouse of information for students, parents, educators and school officials regarding postsecondary education and career pathways.
The PASmart Online Career Resource Center would also include information on career pathways, data and statistics on employment and compensation, and other relevant resources to help students understand all of the opportunities that are available to them.
“For students and parents, planning for life after high school can be daunting. These resources will help them chart their course,” said DiSanto. “Whether students are heading toward college or a trade, there are a lot of choices to consider. Helping families make informed decisions will ensure students can pursue their goals and our communities get the workforce it needs.”
The bill also requires the creation of an online database with information on statewide and regional articulation agreements in an effort to ease the process of transferring credits between institutions and to allow users to be aware of these agreements before making course enrollment decisions.
Additionally, the bill would help students better understand the options that are available after graduation by requiring high schools to offer an opportunity for representatives of skilled trades, career and technical schools, community colleges, universities and priority occupations to provide information regarding employment and training opportunities in order to recruit students.
Schools would also be required to develop a summary of regional workforce needs on a regular basis to ensure students understand the career opportunities and earnings potential for career paths in their area. Not only will this information be valuable to students, but it will also help to align post-secondary education with the current needs of Pennsylvania’s economy.
In addition, the bill would establish a Schools-to-Work Program in the Department of Labor and Industry to provide grants to support the creation of workforce development partnerships between schools, employers, trade associations and other organizations to create pathways to training and employment.
Special panels would also be established to study all transfer and articulation agreements, guidelines for applying credits toward the completion of agriculture education programs, and credits awarded by career and technical schools for the completion of certain science, technology, engineering or mathematics courses or programs.
Finally, the bill made revisions to the current equipment grants that are available to career and technical programs throughout the Commonwealth. The current program allows for grants to be used to purchase one piece of equipment valued over $3,000 for use in educational programs. The revisions now include a complete set of automotive or diesel mechanic tools, which were previously considered to be multiple pieces of equipment even if purchased in a complete set.
The bill now returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.
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