$9.5 Million in grants awarded for vocational equipment and programs


BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The state is awarding $9.5 million in Skills Capital Grants to 32 high schools, community colleges and educational institutions that will use the funds to purchase equipment, modernize operations, and boost enrollment capacity in career training programs. This brings the total monies awarded by the Baker-Polito administration to more than $36 million in Skills Capital Grants to 78 different educational institutions over the last two years.

The competitive grants are awarded to educational institutions that demonstrate partnerships with industry, as well as align curriculum and credentials with businesses’ demand, in order to maximize hiring opportunities in each region of the state.   Economic Development legislation proposed by the Administration and passed by the Legislature last year authorizes $45 million in program funding over the next three years.

“Meeting the demands of today’s employers takes a highly skilled workforce and these grants will bring us one step further to closing the skills gap,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash. “Training the next generation of workers using modern, state-of-the-art equipment prepares them for the future and ensures the Commonwealth will remain competitive.”The following received Workforce Skills Capital Grants in Western Massachusetts:

Berkshire Community College – $54,524: BCC will enhance training for Allied Health and Science programs, including respiratory care, physical therapy, massage therapy, and nursing with the purchase of an Anatomage Table. This 3-D, state-of-the-art computerized table will provide access to a highly sophisticated visualization system for anatomy and physiology education.

Franklin County Technical School – $495,000: The school will revamp its welding and metal fabrication program to meet new industry demands, and provide a pipeline of students prepared to enter the workforce. A new CNC press brake forming machine will allow students to be well-trained with brake, tooling, CNC and drawings.

Hampden County Sheriff’s Department/York Street Industries – $115,706: Through its subsidiary York Street Industries, the Sheriff’s Department will upgrade and modernize its manufacturing program by purchasing state-of-the art computerized machinery. Inmates will be trained as computerized machine operators, and receive preparation towards certification in MACWIC Level 1 manufacturing and the National Career Readiness Certificate. The program works collaboratively with Springfield Technical Community College to provide students with a career pathway.

Holyoke Community College – $229,500: HCC will purchase equipment for the Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs that will better prepare students changing workforce needs. The purchase of the new equipment will increase the number of seats available in the program, as well as improve the skill level of students based on the needs of local employers.

McCann Technical School – $196,315: McCann Technical focuses on precision manufacturing for the aerospace, defense, commercial, medical device, plastics, mold-making and power generation markets. It is critical for those industries to have a workforce of well-trained electricians capable of installing and sustaining complex manufacturing equipment and software. McCann Tech will provide industry advanced manufacturing Programmable Logic Controllers, PLC, and fiber optics training programs that can be increased incrementally as students’ progress, as well as diagnostic and retraining for incumbent workforce.

Ralph C. Mahar Regional School – $66,246: Mahar will create a student-led IT help desk course with training provided for multiple certifications through CompTIA, Cisco, Microsoft, Google and others. The school will purchase UAV’s, PC workstations, CNC machinery, collaborative touch screen monitors, high-definition and infrared cameras, microphones and 3D printers, as well as prototyping in augmented reality/virtual reality.

Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School – $175,000: Smith will expand its Horticulture program to include greenhouse management and floriculture concentrations. The current greenhouse will be upgraded and retrofitted with modern aquaponics, propagation systems, coolers, instructional aides, and floriculture equipment.

Tantasqua Regional Vocational High School – $270,000: Tantasqua Regional will update its Manufacturing program to provide training using CNC equipment. The school will partner with two local high schools to provide students after-school training opportunities, as well as two local employers to provide incumbent worker training programs.

Westfield Public Schools – Westfield Technical Academy – $500,000: Westfield Technical Academy is completing the Hangar 2 project at Barnes Regional Airport. Completion of the hangar will benefit all students in the program, grades 9 to 12. The grant will be used to pay for components of construction including the HVAC, fire protection, plumbing and electrical systems that will allow the building to be usable by students.

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