INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill that would help fund workforce training opportunities for high school students.

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) has previously said one of his caucus’ top priorities this session is getting high school students better prepared for the workforce.

State Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville) has introduced House Bill 1002, which would create career scholarship accounts for students.

“This actually has opportunity, with everybody’s input, to change actually the lives of our students in Indiana,” Goodrich said at Wednesday’s House Education committee meeting.

The program would fund courses and apprenticeships that align with a student’s plans after high school.

“It tells our State Board of Education to provide flexibility with graduation requirements to allow for more applied learning experiences and apprenticeships,” Goodrich said of the bill.

Goodrich’s bill also creates new requirements for schools related to career exploration. It mandates high schools host one career fair per year and have each student meet one-on-one with an intermediary, employer or labor organization to discuss career options.

The House Education committee held a hearing on the bill Wednesday. Several school organizations and members of the business community shared support for the proposal.

“Addressing our state’s workforce challenge has been further compounded by recent trends, including declining post-secondary participation, which has fallen by double digits in recent years, as well as declining labor participation,” said Jason Bearce, vice president of education and workforce for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

But some parents and teachers raised concerns. Some educators testified that they’re worried about what this could mean for funding for career and technical education centers.

Indiana PTA president Rachel Burke said she’s opposed to the bill right now because it also requires the State Board of Education to adopt new high school diploma requirements by the end of 2024.

“The most frustrating thing about being a parent in the state of Indiana are the ever-changing high school requirements in this state,” Burke said.

State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis), who chairs the House Education committee, said he hopes to see 5,000 to 10,000 students participate in the program to start.

Lawmakers are still working out several details of the proposal, including the potential fiscal impact to the state since the grants would vary for each student.

The House Education committee is expected to discuss amendments to the bill and vote on it next week, Behning said.