Massachusetts Makes New Workforce Investments

By Brooke DeRenzis, August 26, 2014

Earlier this month, Massachusetts’ governor announced key investments in the skills of the state’s workforce. Over six years, Massachusetts will invest $15 million in adult basic education in an effort to help participants gain postsecondary credentials and good jobs. Massachusetts has over 16,000 residents on the waitlist for adult basic education and ESL services. State policies that promote adult basic education as part of a broader job training strategy are critical to equipping academically underprepared workers for middle-skill jobs.

The investment is financed through Massachusetts’ “Pay for Success” model: private investors will cover the upfront cost of the initiative, and Massachusetts will repay those investors with a return when participants achieve certain training and employment outcomes. The state of Massachusetts selected NSC partner Jewish Vocational Service of Greater Boston to provide adult basic education.

On August 13, Governor Patrick also signed economic development bill H.4377. While the bill is wide-ranging, it includes important investments in middle-skill training.

The bill provides $2.5 million to the state’s Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund. Of that amount, at least $1 million must be transferred to the Department of Higher Education to develop, implement and promote stackable credentials that cumulatively lead to a degree or industry-recognized credential. The stackable credentials must be responsive to industry needs. Stackable credentials allow workers to build their skills and earn a postsecondary credential while they continue to work. The remaining funding will be used by the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to address the state’s middle-skill gap.

H.4377 also provides $12 million for an Advanced Manufacturing, Technology and Hospitality Training Trust Fund. The fund will support training to address worker shortages in these industries.

Photo credit: Eugena Ossi/Governor's Office (CC 2.0)