Businesses urged to increase paid internships for high school students

A bill in the Texas Legislature would offer tax credits to businesses that fill paid internships for high school students.   File photo

Businesses in Texas are being encouraged to increase the number of paid internships to high school students as part of a long-term campaign to produce a proper pipeline from school to work place.

This path from education into to the workforce is fragmented, according to Cathy DeWitt, vice president of government affairs at the Texas Association of Business (TAB).

There should be one pipeline geared towards jobs, DeWitt said. “Internships are a huge component in making that connection,” she told Texas Business Daily.

TAB is welcoming the introduction of a bill in the Texas Legislature that offers tax credits to businesses that offer and fill paid internships for high school students.

Senate Bill 518, introduced by state Sen. Borris Miles (D-Houston), makes use of the franchise tax credit to encourage paid internships. The amount of the credit is $1,000 for each eligible student.

"This legislative package will increase paid internships, job training, and offer the business community an incentive to invest in Texas' workforce. This will create a win/win opportunity for students, businesses and Texas as a whole," Miles said after filing the bill in January. It is currently with the Senate Finance Committee.

Encouraging paid internships is another part of the puzzle in bridging any gaps between school and the work force, DeWitt said.

It adds to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce-funded initiative called Launch My Career, which is currently up and running in Texas, Tennessee and Colorado, she added.

The interactive online tool helps high school students find out information on the college courses that offer the best return on investment, including comparing future earnings against the spend on college, and where the “hot jobs” are located, and in what industries.

Business leaders are also following another bill making its way through the legislature. SB 13 would bar government from collecting union dues from government employees, excepting police, firefighters and EMTs. 

Supporters of the bill argue the government should not be involved in any way in what is effectively the running of what is a political machine. Opponents say the bill is pointless union bashing in a right to work state, and that it would have a “chilling effect” on membership of associations and unions.

State Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), the bill’s sponsor, said the exemptions were due to those groups serving communities with "great honor and distinction,” according to a report in the Texas Tribune.

DeWitt said that it is good public policy that the state is not involved in collecting dues for organizations that are involved in political activity. She added that it is the Chamber’s position that no group should be exempted. The bill passed out of committee to the full senate in February.

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