Vocational education advocates applaud $45M in development bill

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BOSTON >> The economic development bill Gov. Charlie Baker signed Wednesday includes $45 million to invest in equipment and training at career and technical schools, an outlay that supporters say will help meet the labor demands of businesses in Massachusetts.

The grants are part of a larger 140-section bill (H 4569) that includes a $500 million outlay for MassWorks infrastructure program, tax deductions for contributions to prepaid tuition or college savings programs, and a program authorizing state transportation officials to offer and convey surplus rail assets such as signals and track material.

According to the Alliance for Vocational and Technical Education, an inaugural round of grants in February 2015 awarded $9.3 million to 35 high schools, community colleges and vocational training providers. The new funding will facilitate dozens of grants over three years.

"The single biggest issue among Massachusetts employers is the need for skilled and motivated workers," said Tim Murray, president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, in a statement released by the association. "Employers already know the high quality graduates that our vocational technical schools produce. The Workforce Skills Capital Grant program will help expand that pool of talent and create meaningful career paths for young people as well as those seeking to upgrade their skills."


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