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Bill to expand industry certifications in public schools advances

The House Education Committee unanimously approved a bill that would expand industry credentialing opportunities for public school students.

Senate Bill 3, also known as the CONNECT (Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training) Act, would add to the number of career oriented experiences available to students through internships, apprenticeships and skills training. Through such experiences, students would receive certification, state licensure or an occupational competency recognized by the industry.

“The intent of this bill is to look at those courses that are career oriented and structure them in such a way that they will have a more recognized and higher value credentialing,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senator Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta.

The goal is to make sure the courses meet industry requirements in terms of equipment, curriculum and instructor qualifications. Tippins believed the bill would be fertile for technology, automotive, food service and construction industries.

Mark Woodall, spokesperson for the Association of General Contractors, told the committee the bill would help Georgia’s construction industry.

“If you’ve driven through Atlanta, there are more tower cranes in this city and this state than we’ve ever had. Unfortunately, we don’t have the skilled labor to actually build the projects,” he said.

He believes the bill will create a pipeline for companies to find talent and for students to find jobs.

The committee amended the bill to include a section from Senate Bill 139 that would empower local school systems, charter schools and college and career academies to create programs of study and content standards, subject to approval by the Georgia Department of Education.

SB 3 also instructs the Georgia Department of Education to expand industry partnerships and use competitive state grants to incentivize investment in certification programs where there is industry need.

The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 52-0 in February. Its next step will be to come before the House for a full vote.

RELATED: Track bills, lawmakers: Georgia Legislative Navigator

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