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State Officials Promote Local Workforce-development Initiatives

SPRINGFIELD — State officials joined U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan this week at Springfield Technical Community College to recognize the Commonwealth’s leadership in developing a robust workforce pipeline to meet the needs of employers across Massachusetts.

Perez and Duncan highlighted two rounds of grants, totaling $40 million, awarded to Massachusetts community colleges by the U.S. Department of Labor to further the efforts of Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration to align educational programs at community colleges with the needs of local employers.

“Working together, we have strengthened the connections between our campuses, our employers, and our workforce so that each and every one of our students has the opportunity to thrive,” Patrick said. “Community colleges are a critical asset in our strategy to develop a middle-skills workforce for jobs in demand. I’m proud Secretary Perez and Secretary Duncan have recognized our successful model.”

The consortium of Massachusetts community colleges awarded in these two grant rounds has drawn national attention for building systems between community colleges, adult-basic-education programs, and workforce-development partners and industry leaders to offer students more training and education programs that better reflect the needs of local industry. To date, 151 degree and certificate programs have been developed or redesigned for accelerated learning, and credentials for 40 programs have been made stackable for more comprehensive certification of skills. Among students who have gone through these programs, 70% attained employment, while 85% completed online credit hours.

The latest round of federal funding received by the Massachusetts consortium will focus on reducing the time it takes students to complete certificate and degree programs that lead to careers in high-growth STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) sectors, as well as advanced manufacturing and healthcare.

“This type of collaborative effort between our community colleges and our local businesses bridges career and education, allowing the Commonwealth to lead the nation in career development,” said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. “This vital combination of skills will give our students the competitive edge they will need to succeed in the global workforce.”

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