Asst. Secretary Of Labor Touts Career Training Program


Jacquelyn Gutc
Jacquelyn Gutc
Speaking at Quinsigamond Community College today, the Department of Labor's Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training Administration Jane Oates talks about the importance of the year-old collaboration between the state's community colleges.

Speaking at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester this afternoon, the U.S. Department of Labor's Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training Administration Jane Oates stressed the importance of the year-old partnership that's putting a focus on community colleges and businesses in the state working together.
She told about 50 stakeholders from businesses and community colleges along with state and local officials that businesses need to have access to capital and trained workers to help them weather the next recession, because, "we don't know what the next recession is going to be."
A $20-million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration has allowed for the creation of the Massachusetts Community Colleges and Workforce Development Transformation Agenda (MCCWDTA). It's a collaboration of the state's 15 community colleges which has led to the redesign of degree and certificate programs that are focused on preparing adults for careers in high-demand industries. Through the three-year grant, the six industries focused on are health care; biotechnology and life sciences; advanced manufacturing; clean energy and sustainability; information technology; and financial services.
The agenda aims to link vocational education with academics which Oates said is important and hasn't been done in the past. She said industry credentials should be built in with college credit.
Oates said the program is also about educating people with dignity, focusing on workers who were impacted by the down economy and changing industries.
"They cannot sit in a classroom for two semesters because they need to brush up on fractions and decimals," Oates said, noting that the redesigned programs allow people to learn new skills while brushing up on the math they need.
The grant is the first of its kind, with the Department of Labor funding the program rather than distributing scholarships for individual students. Business leaders and the colleges work together to develop and employ the programs, with QCC leading the collaboration of the schools.
"Worcester had it together from the beginning, but the economy kept throwing gut punches," Oates said, speaking about the Colleges of Worcester Consortium that was already in place before the agenda was launched.
"Massachusetts and Worcester would've gotten here without us," she said, "they just wouldn't have gotten here in 2012." She said the state shouldn't consider the grant a gift, but rather something it earned.
Congressman James McGovern spoke highly of the program which he said was a long time coming.
"We're not just talking about jobs, we're talking about jobs where people can earn a livable wage," he said, adding that it was smart for the government to make the investment in Massachusetts.
"You give us some resources here, we will be a model for the nation," he said.