§ 16-80-2 Findings.
The general assembly has found and declares that:
(1) Three-fourths (3/4) of adults in the Rhode Island workforce lack a baccalaureate degree, and many do not possess the academic and entry-level occupational skills necessary to succeed in the changing workplace;
(2) Twenty-eight percent (28%) of youths, ages sixteen (16) to twenty-four (24) in Rhode Island, especially disadvantaged students, students of diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and students with disabilities, do not complete high school;
(3) Unemployment among youths, ages sixteen (16) to nineteen (19) in Rhode Island averaged eighteen and six-tenths percent (18.6%) in 1994, an intolerably high percentage, and earnings of high school graduates have been declining in relationship to earnings of individuals with post-secondary degrees;
(4) The workplace in the United States and especially in Rhode Island is changing in response to heightened international competition and new technologies, and these forces, which are ultimately beneficial to the nation, are shrinking the demand for and undermining the earning power of unskilled labor;
(5) Rhode Island lacks a comprehensive and coherent system to help its youth acquire the knowledge, skills, abilities, and information about and access to the labor market necessary to make an effective transition from school to career-oriented work or to further education and training;
(6) Students in Rhode Island can achieve higher academic and occupational standards, and many learn better and retain more when the students learn in context rather than in the abstract;
(7) While many students in Rhode Island have part-time jobs, there is infrequent linkage between:
(i) These jobs, and
(ii) The career planning or exploration or the school-based learning of students;
(8) The work-based learning approach, which is modeled after the time-honored apprenticeship concept, integrates theoretical instruction with structured on-the-job training, and this approach, combined with school-based learning, can be very effective in engaging student interest, enhancing skill acquisition, developing positive work attitudes, and preparing youths for high skill, high wage careers;
(9) Federal resources currently fund a series of categorical, work-related education and training programs, many of which serve disadvantaged youths, that are not administered as a coherent whole; and
(10) In 1990, approximately sixteen thousand seven hundred forty-one (16,741) individuals in Rhode Island, ages sixteen (16) through twenty-four (24), had not completed high school and were not currently enrolled in school, a population representing approximately twenty-eight percent (28%) of all individuals in this age group which indicates that these young persons are particularly unprepared for the demands of the twenty-first century.
(P.L. 1996, ch. 161, § 1; P.L. 1996, ch. 251, § 1.)