GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – State lawmakers are pushing for more people in North Carolina to have a degree or certificate to be better prepared for the workforce. A bill introduced in the General Assembly would start that preparation in middle school.

It would require a career development plan to be in place by the end of seventh grade to be promoted to the next grade level. Then in high school, that plan would be revised at the end of 10th grade.

The proposal is Senate Bill 193. While it isn’t in place yet, Kristin Jeffries, who is a guidance counselor at Chicod School, said Pitt County Schools already promotes exploring career interests through their Major Clarity Program and asking questions inside and outside of the classroom to find out what students are interested in.

“I’ve always shared with parents and other people over the years that middle school electives are meant to be exploratory,” said Jeffries. “Just really getting them to know what’s out there even when we do high school registration, and we talk about electives we tell the kids to try something.”

The state’s career development plan would include a self-assessment of the students’ career interest, academic courses that align with those interests, as well as a career portfolio, including completing a free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

“Telling them you know they’ve got to come up with something or put something on paper, I think could you know, just maybe I hate to use the word anxiety, but it does give them maybe a little bit of pressure to say, ‘oh my gosh, I have to come up with what I want to do right now,'” said Jeffries.

N.C. Superintendent Catherine Truitt is a supporter of the bill. She said students would be prepared for success in the workforce.

The goal of the career development plan would be to broaden ideas, which is something Pitt County Schools and Jeffries already continue to encourage.

“Take a chance, you know look at something try it, if you don’t like it then try something new. So, we tell the kids that all the time and that’s what I would continue to tell them to do,” said Jeffries.

The bill did pass unanimously in the Senate, but still needs to be passed in the House before going to Gov. Roy Ccooper’s desk. There is no word on when a vote could take place.