LOWVILLE — A task force of state assemblymen will be in Lewis County to get feedback about proposed legislation to encourage high school students to go into the trades rather than focusing on four-year college degrees as their only option.

A forum will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Lewis County Jefferson Community College Education Center, 7395 East Rd. Leaders in education, trade and industry, along with members of the public, are invited to give feedback to the “Learning for Work Task Force.”

Composed of members of the State Assembly minority party, including Assemblymen Kenneth Blankenbush, R-Black River, Mike Norris, R-Lockport, Mark Walczyk, R-Watertown and Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, the task force is looking for feedback on the Learning for Work legislation proposed in January 2018 in the Assembly and during the state Senate’s 2015-2016 session, according to the legislature websites.

The high school program would create “a youth apprenticeship program, an enhanced Regents professional diploma with a designation in a specified occupational area and a tax credit for employers who take part in the youth apprenticeship program,” according to the legislation document online.

“For many current and future high school students, the traditional pathway of a basic high school education and then on to a four-year college may not be the correct route to take. These students would benefit from a program that would prepare them for employment immediately upon graduating high school,” the legislation states as the reason for the program.

The $5 million program has been held in the education committee for consideration since April 2018.

The task force is holding six regional forums to get feedback on the legislation and “its role in helping to address the ‘middle skills gap’ in the state,” according to news releases on the events.

The forums will result in a report with a summary of findings and potential policy solutions to be circulated among legislators.

Mr. Blankenbush and Mr. Norris are the task force co-chairmen.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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