The Vermont House of Representatives today unanimously approved the Next Generation bill, which aims to improve Vermonts job opportunities for young people. The bill builds on the report of the Next Generation Commission, which stressed the need for a balance of targeted scholarships, loan repayment and workforce development. The report and the bill focus on scholarships and workforce development. The bill proposes $4.4 million in scholarships. It directs some of the scholarship money to supporting student internships that will give young people important work experiences early in their career. The scholarship dollars will also help high school students take courses at colleges. The bill also supports workforce training that connects Vermont employers who need skilled employees with Vermonters who want better jobs. We know that in our area filling this job gap is essential to our economic future. With passage of this important bill, the House has demonstrated its belief that higher education is a critical component to ensuring that we build a thriving and prosperous economy for future generations. We also believe that higher education should be part of a broader focus on preparing Vermonters of all ages and backgrounds for the quality jobs that Vermont businesses can only create if they have a trained workforce. The fact that the Next Generation bill passed unanimously speaks to the excellent work of the House Commerce Committee. The committee understands that while it is critically important to assist Vermont students in paying for higher education, it is equally important that Vermont jobs are available to those students when they graduate. Whether students go to technical schools, state colleges, or the University of Vermont, they need good jobs if we expect to keep them in our state. Speaker Gaye Symington Vermont State House Montpelier, Vt. Editors note: Views expressed by the writers of Guest Viewpoints commentaries are not necessarily those of this newspapers management and staff.