Telegram: Vocational schools receive Skills Capital Grants

SALEM — The Baker-Polito Administration awarded $10.9 million in Skills Capital Grants to 33 high schools and educational institutions, enabling the schools to acquire the newest technologies to educate students and expand programs. In the Item area, Assabet, Minuteman and Monty Tech received grants.

Skills Capital Grants are designed to help high schools, colleges and other educational institutions invest in the most up-to-date training equipment to give their students an advantage when they continue in their chosen field or particular area of study. Skills Capital Grants cover a broad array of fields, from construction and engineering to healthcare and hospitality.

“The equipment purchased by high schools and colleges over the past three years through Skills Capital Grants has directly impacted the educational experience for thousands of Massachusetts students to better prepare them for the workforce,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “This program has had a positive impact on students in the Commonwealth and we look forward to working with the Legislature to include $75 million worth of funding for Skills Capital Grants as part of the Economic Development bill we filed in the spring.”

“By giving our students the opportunity to learn on the newest technologies, we are ensuring they will be better prepared to succeed when they graduate from high school,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said. “We look forward to continuing our work with these 33 high schools and previous awardees to enhance their programs and develop a skilled workforce ready to meet the needs of the Commonwealth.”

The competitive grants are awarded to educational institutions that demonstrate partnerships with local businesses, as well as align curriculum and credentials with industry demand, in order to maximize hiring opportunities in each region of the state.

The following Item-area schools and educational institutions received Skills Capital Grants:

Assabet Valley Technical High School: $497,000 – Assabet Valley Tech will train adults for careers in metal fabrication and advanced manufacturing, with the purchase of six virtual welders, two CNC CO2 laser cutting/marking machines and one fiber laser marking machine. The high school partners with Quinsigamond Community College to expand post-secondary course offerings to more students in its evening program.

Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School: $500,000 – Minuteman Voc Tech will modernize and expand its metal fabrication and joining technologies (welding) lab, allowing high school, “gap year” students, and adults to train on modern, safe, industry-standard equipment. Graduates will enhance their technical skills and more easily secure jobs as welders, metal fabricators, and machinists in the region’s defense, manufacturing, STEM/medical device, and power-generation industries.

Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School: $500,000 – Monty Tech will create a state-of-the-art A.R.M. (automation, robotics, and echatronics) lab, replicating working environments in advanced manufacturing and automation. The A.R.M. Lab will include a variety of equipment and technology used to train students (both high school and non-traditional) interested in careers in advanced manufacturing and automation. Students will prepare to become manufacturing technicians, robotics technicians, automation technicians, moldmakers, and CNC machinists at local corporations. The high school will collaborate with Mount Wachusett Community College to provide education and training opportunities.

“We’re very fortunate,” said Dr. Edward Bouquillon, Minuteman’s Superintendent. “We’ve got a Governor, a state administration and a state legislature that are strong supporters of high-quality vocational-technical education and are putting state resources where they really count – directly into modernizing our vocational-technical programs.”

Bouquillon noted that Minuteman has put together three successful grant applications that have brought in nearly $1.5 million from the Skills Capital Grant Program over the past two years. Two of those grants helped start a new Advanced Manufacturing program at Minuteman. This one will replace aging equipment in the school’s Metal Fabrication and welding program.

“This grant will help us modernize and expand the Metal Fab and Welding program, allowing high school students and adults to train on modern, industry-standard equipment,” said Michelle Roche, director of career and technical education at Minuteman. “This will enable graduates to enhance their technical skills and more easily secure jobs in the high-wage, high-demand field of manufacturing.”

“The Skills Capital grant program is truly changing the face of vocational-technical education in Massachusetts,” said Dr. Sheila Harrity, superintendent of Monty Tech. “We have been able to update and purchase new equipment in several shops thanks to similar grants in recent years. This award, the largest in the school’s history, will benefit students in our Electrical, Engineering and CAD Drafting & Design programs.”