For Immediate Release - April 12, 2011

Lieutenant Governor Murray Announces Plan to Enhance Vocational Technical Education in Massachusetts

BOSTON - Building on the Patrick-Murray Administration's efforts to close achievement gaps through promoting innovative learning strategies, Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray today announced a new leadership model to help advance and expand access to vocational technical education programs across Massachusetts.

"Vocational technical schools provide an exceptional and engaging education that ensures students are ready for the rigors of higher education and the challenges of the 21st century global economy," said Lieutenant Governor Murray. "We are committed to increasing our focus on vocational technical education so students can gain real world applications that will enhance their educational training and workforce development skills to contribute to Massachusetts' growing, innovative economy."

The new leadership model will expand partnerships between educators and employers and increase collaboration among state agencies with the goal of expanding the use of vocational technical schools, which on average demonstrate higher graduation and lower dropout rates compared to overall high school rates statewide, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's 2010 Dropout Rate Report. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will also hire an Associate Commissioner for Vocational, Workforce, and College Readiness Programs to head the initiative.

"We know that our vocational technical schools are achieving great success with students and we're committed to expanding that success to reach more students," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "Working across state government to align priorities and resources and with schools and business leaders will vastly improve our chance to better prepare more students for a bright future."

Lieutenant Governor Murray discussed the plans today during a meeting at the State House with representatives from the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, which represents the 44,000 students and 60 vocational technical schools statewide. The new model will build on the Administration's successful education reform efforts to ensure students have access to the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the workforce.

"We are excited to collaborate across secretariats to support vocational technical schools to help train job-seekers," said Joanne F. Goldstein, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development. "The programs offered by employers in collaboration with vocational education institutions sharpen workers skills and help them to stay competitive for positions in emerging industries."

"By expanding the educational opportunities available to our students, we ensure that they are equipped with the training and specialized skills necessary to thrive in the growing knowledge-based economy," said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki. "Support for vocational technical schools will help Massachusetts maintain its world-class workforce."

"Vocational technical education has a proud and accomplished history in Massachusetts," said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester. "Our vocational technical programs are among the best in the nation and remain core to our goal of strengthening the college and career readiness of the state's public high school graduates. I am committed to expanding the number of pathways to the workforce and higher education."

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today posted the position of Associate Commissioner for Vocational, Workforce, and College Readiness Programs. The full-time, senior level position will provide a direct contact to vocational and technical school administrators, teachers and schools. The Associate Commissioner will work every day to cultivate relationships across Education, Labor and Workforce Development and Housing and Economic Development as well as build strategic partnerships throughout the community college system and with private sector leaders who understand the importance of vocational technical education to their businesses and the Massachusetts economy.

"The position of Associate Commissioner will greatly benefit the vocational technical students of the Commonwealth," said David Ferreira, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators. "In addition, this leadership position will stimulate the development of collaboration and articulation with the workforce and economic development systems to include our public colleges and the universities. This type of partnership will result in greater capacity statewide in preparing both new workers and existing workers for 21st Century occupations."