March 2, 2018

Worcester chamber urges voke-tech support

Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Timothy Murray.

A statewide coalition of educators, businesspeople and community organizations including the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce are urging the Massachusetts Legislature to expand access to career and technical education outside of technical and vocational schools.

The group, the Alliance for Vocational Technical Education, released a white paper Friday offering a roadmap to expanding access to vocational and technical education in the state. The paper was released to lawmakers, businesspeople and educators at a Massachusetts State House event.

In a statement from the alliance, Chamber President & CEO Timothy Murray said the programs proposed in the white paper, both short and long term, will expand access to career and technical education to the 80 percent of high school students who currently don't have access.

"By expanding students' access to CTE, the commonwealth is making a critical investment in the future of our workforce," Murray said.

In the 28-page white paper, the group outlines five critical areas that must be addressed: access and equity; infrastructure, curriculum, instruction and assessment; career readiness; and data and outcomes.

Career technical education is not a requirement of MassCore, the state's high school program of studies adopted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2007.

"High-quality career technical education has the power to transform student engagement and post-secondary aspirations; therefore, it should hold a prominent place in the MassCore requirements," the group wrote in the white paper.

In a statement, Susan Mailman, president and Owner of Worcester-based Coghlin Electrical Contractors, said students in vocational or technical programs post higher standardized testing scores and are more likely to graduate than traditional high school students.

These programs are designed to keep students engaged with hands-on training, Mailman said.

"As a result, students secure good-paying jobs, possess strong academic, technical and professional skills, and are well prepared for employment in skills occupations or to enroll in post-secondary school," she said.

Gov. Charlie Baker's administration and the Legislature has invested $45 million in capital needs, but the alliance argues only 20 percent of high school students have access to career and technical education and more than 3,200 students are on the waitlist.

Support for vocational and technical education is vital to the state's economy, Murray said.

"CTE programs prepare students with the technical and professional skills that employers desperately need right now," he said.


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