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State awards $500k in grants to 10 community colleges for immediate training needs

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  May 28, 2013 03:40 PM

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Massachusetts Bay Community College is one of 10 community colleges that will receive a state "rapid response" grant, which will help offer workforce training programs and certificates benefitting local company employees within three months of a company's funding request, state officials announced today.

The state is awarding a cumulative $500,000 in these grants to the 10 colleges, officials said.

The grant recipients were announced today during a tour of Holliston's Web Industries, where MassBay just launched training for the company's multilingual employees in English as a Second Language and computer literacy.

“These grants offer a lifeline to employees who are eager for training but who may lack the means to advance their education,” said Richard M. Freeland, the state's higher education commissioner, in a statement. “For our community colleges and local business and industry, the grants offer a chance to work together in common cause, building those ‘middle skills’ so essential to meaningful employment opportunities and industry growth.”

MassBay received $75,000 from the state and a $15,000 company match to hold the classes.

The other community colleges that received the grants include:

  • Berkshire Community College: to offer a technical certificate program in medical coding for Berkshire Health Systems, one of the county's largest employers
  • Bunker Hill Community College: to offer training that helps improve healthcare workers' interpersonal and intercultural communication skills
  • Cape Cod Community College: to help train healthcare workers in written communication and basic information technology skills
  • Greenfield Community College: for training healthcare providers in care for the elderly
  • Middlesex Community College: to provide Lowell General Hospital workers with ESL classes
  • Mount Wachusett Community College: to help train employees of Heywood Hospital in suicide prevention, as the Gardner area's suicide rate exceeds the state's average
  • North Shore Community College: to team up with the Chelsea Jewish Foundation to offer onsite nurse assistant and home health aide training
  • Northern Essex Community College: to support Lawrence-based, Hispanic-owned Mainstream Global with informational technology and communication training
  • Roxbury Community College: to support clean energy training for local businesses SolarCity, Inc. and Victory Energy Solutions

At Web Industries, an advanced manufacturing facility providing equipment to some of the world’s leading medical diagnostics companies, 14 employees have signed up for the first phase of on-site classroom training delivered by MassBay educators, who developed a curriculum in partnership with the company.

“When Web Industries expressed their training and education needs to us, MassBay quickly developed training modules for their needs,” said John O’Donnell, MassBay's president. “Within 90 days the program was up and running, and our instructors were onsite providing the training and education they needed for their workforce.”

Employees will be paid for their participation in ESL classes, and encouraged to pursue further on-site coursework in computer basics, math, team-building, computer software applications, and statistical process control.

“One of our challenges is the skills gap,” said Ronald P. Giard, general manager of Holliston's Web Industries facility. “The changing demands of our customers are requiring us to educate our own employees. By working with MassBay we are able to do it here during work hours.”

Students began attending classes Tuesdays and Thursdays on May 14.

Web Industries executives and state officials hope the program will inspire the workers to pursue campus-based, credit-bearing coursework needed to earn college degrees.

For more information on higher education in Massachusetts, visit the department's website.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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