A bill passed Friday by the Washington State Senate would expand career connected learning opportunities, helping students understand available career pathways and better plan for their future. The bill passed on a 45 to 3 vote.

Senate Bill 5327, the Career Connect Washington Act, is sponsored by Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island) and was requested by Gov. Jay Inslee.

“Teaching youth about a wide variety of career opportunities will help them connect with 21st century economic opportunities,” Wellman said. “Students have different learning styles, one size does not fit all. We must recognize that when it comes to education and career readiness. We want students leaving high school to have pathways to careers.”

Career Connect Washington brings government resources and the private sector together with a sustainable career connected learning system to address persistent educational opportunity gaps and meet employers’ workforce needs. It offers programs to advance students’ academic learning and allow them to discover, explore and prepare for jobs and careers that allow them to grow and succeed.

It comes as a result of a career connected learning initiative launched in 2017 with the goal of connecting 100,000 Washington youth with high demand, high paying jobs over a five year period.

The bill would create a cross-agency work group to build a statewide system of career launch programs. It would direct each of the state’s Educational Service Districts to employ someone to work with regional networks to expand career connected learning opportunities.

A grant program would be created to dispense funds for expanding career connected learning opportunities across the state. The bill would also direct higher education institutions to hire coordinators to develop and expand opportunities for academic credit for career launch programs.

SB 5327 now heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration.