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February 27, 2018

Revised labor law opens career paths for high schoolers

A revision to Maine's Hazardous Occupations Law for Minors is attracting more students under age 18 to paid internships.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the revised law allows high schoolers to do paid internships in new trades, now that limits on working with hazardous machinery have been eased.

Previously, state labor laws prohibited teens from working with hazardous machinery. Sen. Amy Volk of Scarborough, who proposed the amendment with Reps. Martin Grohman and Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford, told the Press Herald the changes benefit both students and local businesses trying to attract skilled workers. Paulette Bonneau, director of the Center of Technology, said internships allow students to gain real-world experience while also exposing them to career opportunities they can pursue without leaving the state.

Matthew Henry, co-owner and plant manager of Biddeford manufacturer DeepWater Buoyancy, said good welders in Maine are in short supply and the company was happy to partner with the Center of Technology so it could bring Biddeford High School student Sam Roy to work.

"He's essentially just another employee," Henry said. "The best thing we can do for him is show him all the skills he'll need beyond welding."

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