House speaker praises Tech ed.; DeLeo addresses school summit.
WORCESTER -- House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, D-Winthrop, on Friday highlighted the growing economic development role of a new era of vocational education that aligns midlevel skills training with demand for jobs in health care, advanced manufacturing and engineering.
"These aren't the vocational schools of my generation,'' Mr. DeLeo said, noting that students are gaining skills that qualify them for good-paying jobs right out of high school.
"Massachusetts is increasingly becoming the place for the industries of tomorrow,'' he told a group of vocational educators at a vocational technical education summit Friday at the DCU center.
Mr. DeLeo said the state has been receiving national attention for its innovations in vocational and technical education at the high school and community college levels. Other states are looking to see how Massachusetts has been finding ways to prepare students for middle-skilled jobs in demand by key industries.
For that reason, Mr. DeLeo said, he was not surprised that President Barack Obama decided to deliver the commencement address for Worcester Technical High School June 11 at the DCU Center.
Integrating high school and community college learning so some students are able to earn associate's degrees from the colleges while they attend high school is a key innovation in a number of community colleges that Mr. DeLeo would like to see expanded.
With additional funding in the state budget for the coming year as well as grant and incentive programs that will be included in an economic development bill being drafted in the House, he said, "We are providing residents with a competitive edge that will support the state's economy in a sustainable way.''
He said investments in vocational and technical skills education may also help regions of the state outside the Boston area become more attractive to key growth industries, including advanced manufacturing.
"With greater coordination and support, voke tech educational institutions can become a more vibrant and integrating component of our economy and culture,'' Mr. DeLeo said.
The summit, sponsored by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, the Dewey Square Group and GFI Partners, brought several hundred vocational school and community college officials to meet with key members of the governor's cabinet and legislators to focus on jobs training.
"We would like to see more vocational schools partnering with community colleges,'' to provide job skills training said state Education Secretary Matthew Malone. The approach of completing the equivalent of four years of high school and two years of community college in four years is, he said, "an idea whose time has come.''
Mr. Malone said more support is needed, along with bold thinking to advance that kind of program. He said the administration had requested special funding in the state budget for "early college high schools,'' but neither the House or the Senate approved that funding.
The summit also featured the announcement of $1.3 million in grants to expand vocational programs.
Area school systems receiving grants were Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical School District, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School District, Nashoba Regional Vocational Technical School District, Tantasqua Regional School District and Worcester Public Schools.
Mr. DeLeo said he is hoping the economic development bill to be considered in coming weeks will strive to put incentives in place to stimulate job growth in cities outside the Boston area.
That legislation could also incorporate proposals from the administration for a $100 million economic development bill that encourages continued growth of innovation centers and expanded skills training programs.
"There are a number of investments in worker training programs. There are investments targeted at Gateway Cities from brownfield remediation to specific grants to help economic development in gateway communities and some housing programs,'' he said.
He said the governor's bill includes a prohibition in Massachusetts on the use of noncompete agreements that limit job mobility and provisions to give local communities more authority to issue new liquor licenses.
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|Author:||Monahan, John J.|
|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||May 31, 2014|
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