By Rosanne Franco

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, business owners, and educational institutions have been impressed with the success of schools offering vocational and technical education (Voc Tech).  As recently reported in the news, capital grants have been provided to 26 vocational technical programs/schools in Massachusetts totaling $7,554,245.  The purpose is to provide training and equipment to build on the success of Voc Tech programs with the intent of boosting the economy and providing skilled labor for vacant jobs.

Governor Baker recognizes the opportunity to make a solid investment in the youth of Massachusetts by providing these funds to Voc Tech high schools and other programs.  “Workforce skills education and training plays an enormous role in economic and personal development by helping residents acquire the skills they need to connect with promising careers,” said Governor Baker in his press release.  “These vocational-technical education equipment grants will help build stronger communities and a more competitive business environment that ensures more residents have the skills they need to succeed.”

Graduates of these programs leave high school with the skills needed to immediately find a job.  In fact, many Voc Tech students graduate from high school with a full time job waiting for them in their trade area.  Other students have been fully equipped to begin a certificate or degree program at a local community college or four year college or university.  These students have a well crafted understanding of the continued training they will need to secure the job that interests them.  They also have the extra guidance of Voc Tech teachers who are professionals in the industry they intend to enter.  These teachers have navigated the profession, and they work with students to provide every advantage as they work toward their dreams.

I am always impressed by the 13 and 14 year old students who decide to pursue a vocational technical education for their high school years.  They know they are signing on for double the amount of work that their peers have in a comprehensive school.  They know they are making a commitment to four years of increasingly difficult study in their trade that must be mastered along with a complete academic education.  They know they will be challenged to work harder than ever before, be more responsible with the lives of others in their job placement assignments, and give even more of themselves if they participate in extracurricular activities.  Despite this, many Voc Tech schools have a waiting list.  And, as I write this, thousands of eighth graders are anxiously awaiting the letter that signals their acceptance into the vocational technical or agricultural school that serves their town.  They have dreams and goals that they know can be achieved by receiving an education at a vocational technical high school or a trade program in a comprehensive high school.