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State waives CLE mandate in order to retain more electricians-in-training

State officials have enacted a rule that would waive continuing-education requirements for electrician youth apprentices — a policy supported by industry groups and state agencies.

The rule, which took effect last week, would give high school students enrolled in electrician youth apprenticeships a break on continuing-education requirements that some had blamed for driving second-year students out of the program.

The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services advanced an emergency rule waiving the requirement after a bill introduced to do the same thing failed to advance during the previous Legislative session.

Previously, electrician youth apprentices were required to take 24 hours of continuing education credits to enroll in the second year of the program, typically in their senior year of high school. It’s the state’s only youth apprenticeship program with such a requirement. Some businesses and trade groups argued doing away with the rule would make it easier for students to juggle work, classes and other activities.

“This requirement is reasonable and justifiable for adults working full time in the electrical trades or while in the registered adult apprenticeship program,” according to a letter in support of the change from the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association. “However, requiring high school youth apprentices to complete 24 hours of continuing education is an unnecessary burden and barrier.”

After a bill introduced by Sen. Dan Feyen, R-Fond du Lac, failed to pass the state Assembly earlier this year, DSPS officials began the process of drafting an administrative-rule change that would put the policy in place.

DSPS, along with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, had supported the rule change during legislative hearings on the bill. Each found waiving continuing education requirements would make it more likely for electrician youth apprentices to continue the program for a second year.

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