This week, the MA community college system received news that they were awarded a major federal grant to build capacity and seed programs to help address barriers that all too many community college students face in getting into and through college courses and then connected to real jobs at the other end.
This news couldn’t have come at a better time.
As Derrick Jackson rightly pointed out in this week’s Globe editorial, however, we do have to look at the “big questions” of long-term sustainability and collaboration. This grant provides the start-up funding needed to develop courses and curricula, train faculty and build capacity to serve working and unemployed adults. It strengthens programs within community colleges. As a state, however, we still need to support a framework to build a more robust continuum of services across education and training institutions in a region, including not only community colleges but also regional vocational technical high schools, career centers and workforce boards, community-based training organizations, and apprenticeship programs.
The Middle Skills Solutions Act (SB 921/HB2713), currently in committee, strives to address the big questions by establishing a statewide middle-skills council, regional skills training partnerships with employers, and regional coordination of labor market information, education and training.
Given that 44 percent of jobs in MA are middle-skill (requiring some post-secondary education) and another 36 percent are high skill (requiring at least a four-year college degree), we need all of our systems to be aligned and pulling in the same direction for our residents and businesses to succeed.