The Massachusetts Workforce Skills Cabinet was created by an Executive Order of Governor Charlie Baker on February 26, 2015. The Cabinet aligns the Executive Offices of Education, Labor and Workforce Development, and Housing and Economic Development toward a comprehensive economic growth agenda. The Cabinet is charged with creating and implementing a strategy to ensure that individuals can develop and continuously improve their skills and knowledge to meet the varying hiring needs of employers in the Commonwealth.
As part of the Workforce Skills Cabinet’s work to align resources to better meet common goals, the former Manufacturing Training Equipment grants (administered by EOHED) and the Vocational Opportunity Challenge grants (formerly administered by A&F) have been combined into one unified and integrated program - the Skills Capital Grant Program.
The 2016 MA Economic Development Bill established three years of funding for the WSC to administer the Skill Capital Grant Program to increase the capacity and quality of vocational training and education by providing funds to eligible schools and institutions for the purchase and installation of vocational-technical equipment.
To date, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded more than $24 million in Workforce Skills Capital Grants to 63 different institutions, improving programs that impact more than 7,100 students per year.
The Skills Capital Grant Program will award grants for the purchase and installation of equipment and any related improvements and renovations necessary for installation and use of such equipment to support vocational and technical training to upgrade and expand career technical education and training high quality career pathway programs that are aligned to regional economic and workforce development priorities for in-demand industries; provided, that grant applications facilitate collaboration to provide students enrolled in eligible vocational technical schools with post-secondary opportunities. High quality career pathways are in high-skill, high-demand industry sectors and:
- align with labor market information about workforce needs,
- span secondary and postsecondary levels,
- offer focused career guidance and advisement systems,
- blend rigorous core academic career technical instruction,
- include high quality work-based learning experiences, and
- culminate in a secondary or industry recognized credential.
A new regional planning initiative aimed at addressing the skills gap by bringing together regional teams of educators, workforce, and economic development professionals to create a statewide blueprint for growth strategies in every region of the Commonwealth was launched by the Workforce Skills Cabinet in April 2017.
The regional planning initiative will better align work across different state and local agencies to fuel job growth and address employer demand for talent by region. The regional approach will help build strong regional economies to ensure all residents benefit from the state’s economic successes.
Seven regional teams will devise local strategies for a statewide plan used to inform policy-making and investments targeted at strengthening the Massachusetts economy. The regional teams will use local labor market data to identify industries and occupations that are growing in their regions, and develop action steps to address gaps in talent and skills for those jobs. The regional planning initiative is aimed at helping more residents gain credentials, education and job skills in high-demand career pipelines.