Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has announced a new plan for the state’s effort to increase access to career education.
Baker’s plan calls for the creation of a single access point, BizWorks, for businesses to work with the state. He plans to launch a regional planning process that will focus on education, workforce training and economic development.
“BizWorks will make it possible to tailor all elements of the commonwealth’s capacity to support businesses who are willing to grow or locate here into a single enterprise singing hopefully off the same sheet of music in the same way,” Baker said.
The announcement was made at Amazon.com’s offices in Cambridge. The company first opened in Cambridge in 2012, and has been increasing their locations throughout the state ever since. Just last week Amazon announced a new 1 million square foot fulfillment center to open in Fall River that will employ close to 500 people. The company also owns a robotics facility in North Reading, a sorting center in Stoughton and is planning to open a new location in Everett.
Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Ron Walker said that state career center staff have been working with the company in an effort to employ local workers at the facilities. He hopes to continue that process throughout the state, allowing businesses and Massachusetts officials to work closely together to determine staffing needs and train local employees.
Baker’s plan would create individual economic development plans for each region based on the various types of employees found in each location by combining education, workforce training and economic development.
“What may be important is Bristol County may be different than what we’re looking for in Berkshire County,” Secretary of Education Jim Peyser said.
The recommendation for the new plan came from a group formed by Baker last February who were looking into a way to best align education and workforce training programs with jobs that currently exist in private industry.
An economic development bill will include many of the details of the new plan, including requests for new funding. Baker hopes to propose the bill in January.
Executive level staff from all three agencies will be included on the BizWorks team, who will be available to help businesses with tax policy, siting of new facilities and other similar issues.
Geyser added that the state is looking to increase access to vocational and technical schools. Waiting lists for these schools currently contain thousands of people, writes David Scharfenberg for The Boston Globe.
Baker has suggested that vocational training would be the focus of his economic development agenda and state plans to push science, engineering, manufacturing and trades. He hopes that by increasing access to education, especially within underserved communities, he will be able to close the “skills gap” currently in existence between the needs of employers in Massachusetts and the skills of the workforce.