A bill requiring state agencies and departments to study how North Carolinians enter trades such as plumbing and welding received a favorable report Tuesday in the House Commerce Committee.
House Bill 282 titled “An Act to Compile Information Regarding the Trades Workforce and Future Training” would require the Department of Public Instruction and other agencies to produce reports that examine educational and experience requirements to become fully licensed in the trades.
Later Tuesday, a preferred committee substitute to the bill received a favorable report in the House Rules Committee.
Rep. Matthew Winslow, a Franklin County and the bill’s primary sponsor, said the examination is needed to improve pathways for students and others to gain the skills needed for good-paying jobs in trades experiencing severe shortages.
Winslow said students in foster care could especially benefit from opportunities to acquire skills to perform such jobs.
HB 282 would require agencies and departments to look at establishing high school programs for students to study the trades and whether those programs should include residency options.
“By the age of 15, most kids in foster care are pretty much adults,” Winslow said. “They know how to do things on their own and now they are just trying to get to a point where they graduate. I would much rather give them an option where they can go some place, go to school for 11th and 12th grade and have an option for a program in the trade school study area.”
The Commissioner of Labor, Commissioner of Insurance, the Department of Commerce, the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Community College System would all be required to examine the trades and to file reports with the state’s Fiscal Research Division.
The reports must include the number of current workers in the trades and projected labor force needs for the next five to 25 years. An examination of current options for high school students to enter the trades would also be required under HB 282.
In addition to plumbing and welding, the agencies and departments would take a look at licensure requirements and pathways to becoming electricians and heating and air conditioning technicians.
Steve Tyson, a Craven County Republican, said the studies will help the state develop solutions to fill vacancies in critical jobs.
“When I got into the construction business in the early 1980s, we had a deep bench,” Tyson said. “There were a lot of young people who didn’t mind working with their hands and now they’re aging out just like I am. But there is a need, there’s a demand and the pay is pretty good.”
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