SPRINGFIELD- On Friday morning, June 10th, Senator Eric P. Lesser visited the Manufacturing Training Program at the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative (LPVEC) and met with students directly benefitting from the program. The program was launched this year, funded in part by an amendment sponsored by Senator Lesser in last year’s state budget.
“It was rewarding to see the funding my colleagues and I secured being put to good use,” Lesser said. “We know that there’s a growing gap between vacant positions in high-tech manufacturing and the skilled graduates necessary to fill them. This program aims directly at that challenge, and will keep more of our young people here in Western Massachusetts at high-paying jobs close to home.”
The funding allowed the LPVEC to set up a machine technology program for students in grades 9-12 and serves the school districts of Agawam, East Longmeadow, Hampden-Wilbraham, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Southwick-Tolland-Granville and West Springfield.
“Our member districts have supported this new program with significant local funds, but state-of-the-art equipment is expensive,” said Andrew Churchill, LPVEC Executive Director. “We are very grateful for this additional state support, which ensured that our students will graduate ready for our region’s cutting-edge manufacturers.” The grant from the state budget went towards advanced machinery that will be used to train eleventh and twelfth graders, as well as tools that are necessary to keep the shop running.
There are 214 manufacturing companies whose principal place of business is located in school districts served by the LPVEC, creating opportunity to directly link students to job opportunities close to home. There are currently more than 44,000 advanced manufacturing job vacancies in Massachusetts. Manufacturing accounts for 94% of the Commonwealth’s exports.
Lesser, who is Senate Chair of the Joint Legislative Manufacturing Caucus, is continuing to fight for manufacturing funding as the FY2017 budget is finalized in Boston. He also published an op-ed last year on the widening manufacturing skills gap in Massachusetts, especially in the Pioneer Valley.