Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant Program Aims to Support Vocational Technical Education
Blackstone Valley Tech recently applied for a $500,000 Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant to aid in purchasing state of the art equipment without increasing the school’s local-taxpayer-supported budget for fiscal year 2018 (FY18).
Of the 18 programs Valley Tech offers, 10 would benefit from the grant: Health Services, Multimedia Communications, Automotive Technology, HVAC & R, Manufacturing Technology, Dental Assisting, Construction Technology, Culinary Arts, Painting and Design Technologies, and Practical Nursing.
Each year, with the help of the Program Advisory Committees, Valley Tech reviews the current equipment in each program and proposes additional equipment to ensure students have access to appropriate and relevant trade tools. The funding of the grant would help prepare Valley Tech’s students for the modern, high-skilled workforce by providing training on specific pieces of equipment identified as “must haves” by the 300-plus business and industry advisors.
Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick commented that, should the district be awarded the grant, Valley Tech would be able to remove the vast majority of capital equipment purchases from the district’s proposed FY18 budget.
“BVT is in a position to apply for highly competitive grants as a direct result of the 13 town partnership created some 50 years ago,” Dr. Fitzpatrick said. “Annual budgetary support by our member communities strengthens any grant application in which we complete.”
The grant application included a proposal to purchase a Mock Pharm Tech Lab for Health Services, a 3D printer for Multimedia Communications, a scan tool work station for Auto Technology, and a Festool Precision Finish Saw for Construction Technology among other equipment.
Blackstone Valley Tech is committed to finding additional funding and grant opportunities to support its programs and initiatives. Last year, the school was awarded a $407,517 Workforce Skills Capital Grant for fiscal year 2017, which was used for a variety of updates to the Manufacturing Technology, Automotive Technology, Construction Technology, and Business Technology programs.
According to Governor Baker's office, the equipment grant program is an initiative of the Governor's Workforce Skills Cabinet, which seeks to align statewide education, workforce, and economic development strategies. Comprised of Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker II, Education Secretary James Peyser, and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, the Cabinet streamlined the former Manufacturing Training Equipment grants and the former Vocational Opportunity Challenge grants into the new Workforce Skills Capital Grants Program.