Massachusetts Secretary for Administration and Finance Glen Shor, Secretary of Education Matthew Malone and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rachel Kaprielian announced $1.3 million in grants to expand vocational programs to prepare students for modern workforce demands.
The announcement was made at the Career, Vocational, Technical and Agricultural Education Summit, hosted at the DCU Center in Worcester by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA).
The grant included $24,148 for the Engineering Department at Nashoba Regional Vocational Technical School District.
This second round of grants through the Patrick Administration’s Vocational Opportunity Challenge (VOC) grant program, provides one-time funding to qualifying institutions to purchase equipment for new and expanding vocational programs, and encourages and strengthens partnerships between school districts and related industries and institutions of higher education by offering innovative educational programs to support a range of career fields to prepare the next generation of skilled workers.
“The VOC program demonstrates the Patrick Administration’s commitment to investing in the future of the Commonwealth,” said Secretary Shor. “Through this program we are providing students with skills and tools to succeed academically and in the workplace.”
The VOC program will provide funding to 34 projects at unique school districts across the Commonwealth in ten occupational areas: Agriculture and Natural Resources; Arts and Communications; Business and Consumer Services; Construction; Early Education and Care; Health Services; Hospitality and Tourism; Information Technology; Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology; and Transportation.
In total, 2,212 students across 216 cities and towns will participate in programs that receive grant funding through this initiative. The announcement builds on the successful first year of the program which provided $1.1 million in VOC grants. In the two year history of the program, the Patrick Administration has provided $2.4 million in funding to a total of 58 programs.
“This program not only helps provide technical training for students in ten targeted areas, but it also is designed to meet the workforce needs of businesses across industries and regions of the Commonwealth,” said Kaprielian.
“We know that hands on training better prepares our students for scenarios they will experience in the work place,” said Malone. “We are working hard to improve access to career readiness programs and by affording schools, faculty and their students with opportunities to practice on industry relevant equipment we are helping more students to succeed.”
All of the Commonwealth’s regional vocational school districts applied for grant funding, as did 70 percent of all schools in Massachusetts with Chapter 74-approved vocational programs.
“Our Vocational, Technical and Agricultural schools are one of the Commonwealth's most important educational and economic development resources. Strategic investment that modernizes equipment and training facilities for our students builds a strong workforce and bright futures and is smart public policy,” said Timothy Murray, President and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“Creating quality workforce development opportunities for emerging careers in our innovation economy is crucial to the economic stability of the Commonwealth. Graduates of vocational technical schools must be prepared with the cutting edge skills for the workplace of the future,” said David Ferreira, Executive Director of MAVA. “The VOC Grant Program provides support for securing needed state of the art equipment. We continue to be most appreciative of this funding stream provided by the leadership of the Patrick Administration.”
The Patrick Administration is dedicated to preparing its future workers for careers in the 21stcentury economy. This competitive grant program that benefits Massachusetts vocational schools is funded through a $5 million investment in the Administration’s Five-Year Capital Investment Plan. The VOC Program provides grant funding to qualifying institutions to purchase necessary equipment at their facilities. Each year for three years, recipients are required to report on program outcomes, such as the number of students completing the program and the number of graduates placed in related industry jobs or attending institutions of higher education in Massachusetts.