BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) and Senator Ryan C. Fattman (R-Webster) announced that an amendment filed by both legislators was adopted during the Fiscal Year 2018 Senate budget debate as part of the budget package. The amendment provides $35,000 to support a manufacturing pilot in the Blackstone Valley.

The pilot would establish a formal partnership between seven area manufacturers and eleven high schools within the Blackstone Valley to educate students and staff about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) career opportunities with a focus on advanced manufacturing. Community partners that have collaborated on bringing this model into fruition include the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce (BVCC), Workforce Central Career Center and the Mass Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

“Manufacturing is vital to the economic vitality of the Blackstone Valley and the Commonwealth,” said Senator Moore. “As manufacturing grows, the need for a highly skilled workforce becomes increasingly important. Through this pilot program, the Blackstone Valley will develop a well-trained workforce that will also help ensure area employers remain competitive within the advanced manufacturing sector.”

“It is critical to ensure appropriate training for our students who will be entering workforce so that they will be prepared and equipped to meet the demands of the an evolving manufacturing sector,” said Senator Fattman.

“The manufacturers throughout the Blackstone Valley have reached out to us to help them identify and cultivate their future workforce needs,” said Paul Lynskey, Executive Director, Blackstone Valley Education Foundation. “Senators Moore and Fattman have been major supporters of manufacturing jobs and education. This funding will help us to solidify collaboration between our eleven member school districts and local manufacturers. It’s a great step forward in continuing the growth of manufacturing jobs in our local communities.”

“We are very grateful for the Commonwealth’s support of this innovative training program,” said Jeannie Hebert, President and CEO of the BVCC. “These collaborative efforts will open the door to closing the gap of a skilled workforce by reaching out to high school students who are interested in a career path in advanced manufacturing, and benefit our manufacturing partners by generating a pool of skilled employees to choose from. Something we have never had before. We thank the Legislature for believing in this program and our hopes are that this pilot can serve as an example for future initiatives across the state.”

Through the pilot, students will gain workplace experiences and teachers will also have the opportunity to participate in on-site manufacturer-conducted professional development. Manufacturers participating in the initiative include Dell Technologies, Waters Corp., Saint-Gobain, AGS, Omni Control Technologies, Lampin Corp. and Precision Engineering. The Blackstone Valley schools include Grafton, Millbury, Northbridge, Sutton, Blackstone Valley Tech, Douglas, Hopedale, Milford, Uxbridge, Blackstone-Millville and Mendon-Upton.

Once the final version of the Senate’s budget is adopted later this week, the $40.3 billion budget will then go before a Conference Committee comprised of six legislators to resolve differences between the versions of the budget passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.