BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker, Secretary of Education James Peyser, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Ronald Walker II, and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash announced a series of new initiatives to support career vocational technical education, including $83.5 million to be proposed between the Governor’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget recommendation and new capital grant funding to be filed in an economic development bill next week.
“With too many good-paying jobs going unfilled, we are pleased to announce this critical investment in our career and technical schools,” said Governor Baker. “Our proposal will make it possible for more students to explore a pathway to success through stronger partnerships with our schools and local businesses in the Commonwealth.”
The funding in the FY17 budget will be coupled with a substantial capital grant program for vocational equipment that further aligns the administration’s investments with local economic and workforce development needs and employment partnerships:
$75 million over five years: new capital authorization to fund grants for equipment to expand and improve career technical education programs, building on a $9.2 million Skills Capital grant program announced this year.
$7.5 million: work-based learning grants, including nearly doubling support for school-to-career connecting activities to $5.5 million, and doubling support for Dual Enrollment to $2 million, to expand and replicate STEM-focused early college career pathways, including middle school curriculum and workplace experience and learning.
$1 million: new Career Technical Partnership Grants, funded through federal Perkins Act grant funding, to strengthen relationships between vocational schools, comprehensive high schools, and employers.
“Massachusetts has some of the strongest career-technical programs in the country, at both the high school and college levels, but access and quality are uneven across the commonwealth, and there’s currently little alignment across education levels,” said Secretary Peyser. “Our efforts will significantly expand student access to high-quality career education programs in STEM fields, manufacturing and traditional trades, with a focus on underserved populations and communities.”
“Finding ways to make sure people get the skills and job training they need to get a good paying job is one of the biggest challenges before us,” said Secretary Walker. “With these initiatives we will engage employers as full partners in program design and implementation to help them create a pipeline of workers.”
“Vocational institutions are an important part of training the workforce to address the skills gap,” said Secretary Ash. “These additional resources will continue to equip vocational institutions as they train the next generation of skilled workers who will help grow the Commonwealth’s economy.”
To take advantage of growing job opportunities in the trades and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, the administration is putting forward a set of proposals and initiatives that will strengthen and expand the capacity of our vocational schools and community colleges by upgrading their capital equipment through a matching grant program. In the FY17 budget, they will prioritize engaging employers as full partners in program design and implementation, to create an effective jobs pipeline, as well as broadening the reach of STEM-focused career education by developing more early college pathway programs and expanding the number of students who graduate from high school with real work experience. In addition, the administration will utilize federal grants to deepen program alignment and integration among community colleges, regional vocational schools, and in-district vocational programs.
The Governor’s Workforce Skills Cabinet was created by executive order on February 25, 2015 to align education, workforce and economic development strategies across the state. Governor Baker tapped Education Secretary James Peyser, Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker, II, and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, who have been engaging with business leaders and educators around the state to find ways to create partnerships between the employer community, the state workforce system and education in order to open up more job opportunities around the Commonwealth.