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Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) explains the Workforce-Ready Educate America Act to a gathering of educators in Amherst. Photo: Daniel Robison, Innovation Trail
Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) explains the Workforce-Ready Educate America Act to a gathering of educators in Amherst. Photo: Daniel Robison, Innovation Trail

Tax credits would encourage internships

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A western New York representative wants to give businesses an incentive to provide internships. The new piece of legislation in Congress would give businesses a tax credit for each intern. As the Innovation Trial's Daniel Robison reports, colleges and universities indicate support for the measure.

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The Workforce-Ready Educate America Act would deliver a $1,000 tax credit for each student given an internship. Congresswoman Kathy Hochul (D-NY) says she’s expecting to introduce the measure within a few weeks.

Internships are now required in many degree programs in higher education. But since 2008’s financial downturn, certain businesses, especially manufacturers, stopped their internship programs, says Hilbert College President Cynthia Zane.

These incentives will inspire businesses to change their behavior, she says.

“A lot of businesses during the recession ... were laying off regular employees [and] just didn’t have the resources anymore to support a student’s internship,” Zane says. “Taking one of our students as an intern does present some direct cost to the companies that hire them. They have to be oriented; they have to have their work supervised. So the idea that there would be some tangible payback and would have to do this gratis, I think is very important in this economy.”

Hochul’s bill would cap the tax credit amount at $3,000, meaning just three students per business per year could take advantage of the program.  

“This is a very small amount to accomplish what we want to do,” Hochul says.

But with ongoing scrutiny in Washington over spending and deficits, it’s unclear if the bill will receive the bipartisan support needed for its passage.

Representatives from western New York’s 21 colleges and universities gathered Monday at an “education roundtable” to support measure, and relay suggestions to Hochul in person.

“Bottom line is, every one of us wants to be sure that our students have the maximum opportunities to have internships or co-op placements during the time they’re enrolled in school, which ultimately will yield or lead to their first job,” says Zane.

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