Technical education

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed a workforce development bill sponsored by state Sen. Jay V. Kahn into law Monday, according to the governor’s office.

Kahn’s bill, Senate Bill 276, allows New Hampshire high-schoolers to enroll in career and technical education courses when they’re sophomores. While some students already can, the Kahn bill will standardize the accreditation process for high-schoolers beginning with the class of 2023.

“Educators are recognizing that a high school education can incorporate workforce readiness skills,” said Kahn, a Keene Democrat whose district covers much of Cheshire County.

The bill also defines terms for career readiness to apply an even standard across school districts and employers, in addition to creating a “career readiness credential.”

The state will also cover tuition costs for the career readiness courses, which are around $150 per class, according to the bill text.

Businesses will pay students in apprenticeships and other similar programs. Once students are ready for the workforce, the bill offers a comparable standard for businesses looking to hire employees out of school.

Kahn said business owners have told him that the bill would ultimately be a net savings for them.

“What some of the employers are saying is that you’re going to save business in two ways,” Kahn said. “One is that students already made a choice. They understand the kind of work they’re going to be doing, and they’re skilled up to do them. So you don’t have the 90-day training period and fit-and-match kind of concerns, so there’s a much greater retention of those students after they’ve had a career-ready experience.”

Another one of Kahn’s bills — SB 258, which expands access to telemedicine — was also signed by Sununu Monday.

Jake Lahut can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or jlahut@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @JakeLahut.