Love for Sale? Well, Maybe Internships

(from http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/04/28/love-for-sale-well-maybe-internships/)

Many people are actually paying money for the privilege of working for free. There are enough people looking for summer-internships, paid or unpaid, that now there are companies that specialize in finding an internship for a fee.

“… an internship is a way to learn about the job market, acquire basic skills, learn office protocol and etiquette, and make connections that can help you take your next steps.

“… internship is increasingly becoming a necessary part of the educational process.  School no longer prepares kids to either get or keep jobs, and internships are springing up to fill the gap. This is partly an indictment of our educational system and partly a statement about how the job market is changing.

“First, there’s the educational problem. The huge amounts of time that American adolescents and young adults spend in class don’t actually prepare them in any meaningful way for the job world. Our educational system is horrendously inefficient and glacially slow. In most of our schools, including the “good” ones, kids learn at what by historic standards is a snail’s pace and waste untold days and weeks on trivial assignments amid the tyranny of low expectations.

“… American education today tends to demand little from most students by world or historical standards and to be poorly focused — lots of fluff courses, little orchestration of learning experiences, many scatter shot learning experiences and very few thoughtful efforts to construct a meaningful introduction to the complicated world in which we live.

“… kids now come to the end of an unconscionably long, excessively expensive, poorly designed academic experience without the slightest idea about how to work or even what work is.

“Many have few or no office skills beyond simple typing for which anyone is willing to pay, by and large, in a standard commercial or non-profit environment. Under these conditions, internships become an essential and necessary part of education, and some of the justice questions that apply to school access now apply to internships as well.”

One of the ideas I am working on for a next-year bill is to make it easier for kids (or adults) to find an apprenticeship where they can learn a valuable skill.

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Union Leader likes my bill HB1431 about barbers’ licenses

(Licensing barbers: Just a snip off the top http://www.unionleader.com/article/20120411/OPINION01/704119946)

What is the point of licensing barbers?

That is not an absurd question when one has a look at the State of New Hampshire’s barber license requirements. The state requires that barbers take 800 hours of classroom instruction or 1,600 hours of apprenticeship for at least 12 months and pass an exam. Once those hurdles are leapt, a barber must practice for a year before being legally allowed to open his or her own shop.

Supposedly, the point of licensing barbers is to protect the public health. There is merit to the claim. Sanitation is as much a concern as competent techniques. It does not follow, however, that the state’s current requirements are essential to protect the public health. Might someone learn to be a safe and competent barber through a shorter apprenticeship combined with self-study? Of course.

And it is hard to see how the public is made safer by requiring a licensed barber to work for someone else for a year before opening his or her own shop.

Earlier in this legislative session, the House caused quite a bit of outcry among barbers and cosmetologists with a proposal that would have abolished state licensing for those occupations. It did not pass.

Instead, the House approved an amended version of House Bill 1431. It would maintain the state licensing of barbers, but allow people to learn by alternative methods. Anyone who can demonstrate competency by passing the state exam after undergoing the current requirements or “equivalent training and experience” could obtain a license. And any licensed barber could open his or her own shop immediately. It also would allow people to cut hair for money in their own homes without performing extensive and unnecessary renovations.

The bill is not perfect. It would allow a license to those “demonstrating the minimum skills needed to perform the art of barbering.” It might be better to read “the minimum skills and knowledge needed to perform the art of barbering,” although “skills” is open to interpretation and could include basic safety and sanitation requirements.

On the whole, this bill would maintain public health protections while reducing barriers to entry, which makes it worthy of passage.