The Baker-Polito Administration is ramping up its support of career vocational technical education, with $83.5 million worth of new initiatives being proposed between the Governor’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget recommendation and new capital grant funding.
“With too many good-paying jobs going unfilled, we are pleased to announce this critical investment in our career and technical schools,” said Governor Charlie 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:
1.$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.
2.$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.
3.$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.
The initiatives have come from the Governor’s Workforce Skills Cabinet, which 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.
Governor Baker said the Skills Cabinet is working together “to create an approach and a strategy to skill building and skill development, recognizing that this has an enormous role not just in economic development but human capital development,” adding that this approach provides “a path for people to find a career that works for them.”