In his 2012 January State of the State, Governor Deval Patrick described a skills gap in Massachusetts and set a clear goal to bridge the more than 200,000 of our citizens searching for work and employers seeking to fill 140,000 jobs. One of Governor Patrick’s highest priorities is to strengthen the connection between Massachusetts’ workforce system, our community colleges and economic development to ensure that the state has programs and pathways that are well-aligned with industry skill demand and present economic opportunity for unemployed and lower-skilled workers. In his FY13 budget the Governor focused his priorities to create new resources and tools to address this skills gap and strengthen the connections between our workforce and education systems. He also charged his Secretaries of Education, Labor and Workforce and Housing and Economic Development, to create a coordinated strategy that aligns our workforce and education systems and links our citizens and employers to career pathways that lead to employment. The Secretaries have designed and are implementing a strategic plan for system alignment that includes establishing:
- A Career Pathways Committee as part of the Massachusetts State Workforce Investment Board (MWIB) to establish a system of career pathways from middle school, to high school to postsecondary education and direct state resources to replicate and scale pathways in response to business and industry workforce needs. The committee is comprised of employer, workforce and education leaders including executive leadership from K-12, vocational technical and postsecondary institutions.
- A statewide regional planning process that provides tools and a framework for regional stakeholders across workforce investment boards, regional economic development organizations/chambers of commerce, K-12 and vocational education, adult basic education and community colleges to collaborate towards building more aligned and responsive workforce and education strategies for business and industry.
- An Interagency Staff Team focused on aligning goals and priorities within and across each Executive Office and department for workforce development and education that cut across funding opportunities, policy and performance metrics.
In addition to developing this joint strategic framework aligning workforce and education with economic development, each of the offices of Education, Labor and Workforce Development and Housing and Economic Development, as well as various departments within these offices, are working on initiatives to implement career pathways and to align systems in support of these pathways. The Executive Office of Education is leading key initiatives that are designed to provide young people with opportunities to complete high school, earn a credential with currency in the labor market and launch into a family-sustaining career, with the prospect of further education: the Massachusetts Pathways to Prosperity initiative.