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Acosta pitches lawmakers on career tech initiative

by Katie Lannan, State House News Service

A Baker administration effort aimed at training 20,000 new workers over four years would begin with an initial class of just over 1,500 people and scale up gradually, the state’s labor and workforce development secretary said Monday.

Secretary Rosalin Acosta told lawmakers during a budget hearing that next year would be a “capacity-building year” for Gov. Charlie Baker’s new Career Technical Initiative, with plans to enroll 1,024 adults and 500 youth.

With the goals of providing more residents with career training and increasing the supply of skilled workers available to businesses, the initiative proposes operating vocational schools in three shifts per day. Along with their regular day of classes, the schools would offer an afternoon program for students enrolled in traditional high schools and an evening program for adults looking to move into high-demand industries.

Baker has said the program will “transform” vocational schools and “turbocharge our approach to applied learning and industry specific credentialing.”

Baker rolled out the new initiative over three days in January -- first announcing the concept in his State of the State speech, providing more details when he filed his fiscal 2021 budget the next day, and then highlighting it with a visit to Greater Lawrence Technical School.

Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy said Monday that Greater Lawrence is among the schools that are already working on a multi-shift model, with some students starting their day at Lawrence High School at 11 a.m. and then coming over to the vocational school at 2 p.m. to continue their studies.

“We think it’s a great way to make great use of the space,” he told the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees.


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