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AIM Establishes Next Century Scholarship at UMass Boston

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jun 22, 2016 1:56:46 PM

Motley.Lord.jpg

The University of Massachusetts Boston and Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Inc. (AIM) have signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a new scholarship to assist the university in educating the next century of business leaders in the commonwealth.

AIM will contribute $25,000 to UMass Boston annually for the AIM Scholarship Endowment. AIM President Richard C. Lord and Chancellor J. Keith Motley signed the memorandum at AIM headquarters.

The AIM Next Century Scholarship will cover up to 75 percent of the cost of tuition, fees, and books for up to two full-time undergraduate students in the College of Management during their junior and senior years of study.

“We thank Associated Industries of Massachusetts for their investment in University of Massachusetts Boston students, and for sharing our vision of developing a vibrant, diverse workforce in the commonwealth,” Motley said.

“Our students are the future of the Massachusetts economy. They will go on to serve as future leaders in their community, our state, our nation, and our world.”

Lord said UMass Boston plays a unique role in providing educational and economic opportunity to the next generation of the Massachusetts work force.

“The single most pressing challenge facing Massachusetts employers in 2016 is finding the skilled, well-educated employees who will help their companies succeed in a global economy. These scholarships represent a down payment on women and men who will forge the future success of commonwealth,” Lord said.

He also paid tribute to Gina Cappello, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement, who played a central role in establishing the scholarship before her tragic death in a motor-vehicle accident earlier this month.

“Gina was an extraordinary partner in this process and her work will benefit students for years to come,” Lord said.

The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research addressing complex issues, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 17,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit www.umb.edu.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), founded in 1915, represents the interests of thousands of Massachusetts employers on public-policy issues that affect jobs and the growth of the state economy. AIM also provides human-resource, management and insurance services to employers ranging from manufacturers to professional services firms to technology startups.

 

 

Topics: Education, Workforce Training

Second Grant to AIM Will Allow Companies to Train Supervisors at No Cost

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jun 20, 2016 1:30:00 PM

AIM for the second year in a row has been awarded a $200,000 state grant that will allow employers to improve the skills of their key supervisors at no cost.

Fourpeople.jpgAIM’s supervisory/leadership training series was among a number of initiatives to win grants under the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Program (WTFP) Direct Access Program.

“We are honored to earn this grant for a second year and excited to use the money to help employers provide training and advancement opportunities to their front-line supervisors,” said Gary MacDonald, Executive Vice President of the AIM Employers Resource Group.

The grants are designed to meet regional demands for training that may not have the scope or scale to merit a standard Workforce Training Grant. The awards also help larger organizations that want to offer education to existing leadership, new hires, “bench players” and newly promoted supervisors.

 “A large segment of leadership teams are comprised of home-grown, high potential people who have shown technical ability, but who have not had the chance to learn the human relations and decision- making skills that are important to helping others succeed,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald said companies face a multitude of internal and external issues that can be resolved, minimized or avoided by good supervisory and leadership practices:

  • Retention and turnover
  • Legal compliance and understanding of obligations under the law
  • Time management
  • Hiring the right person
  • Effective communication practices
  • Delegation and prioritization
  • Identifying and solving problems
  • Becoming an agent for and a leader of organizational change
  • Generating ideas and innovation
  • Developing and working in teams with multicultural & multigenerational members
  • Increasing employee performance
  • Understanding leadership responsibilities and accountabilities.

AIM plans to run its Supervisory Skills program multiple times during 2016 in four locations – Bridgewater, Burlington, Fitchburg and Marlborough.  The program content is applicable to any industry.

"We are very interested in helping small businesses access the fund either individually or through collaborations with other businesses with similar needs.” said Nancy Snyder, President and CEO of Commonwealth Corporation, which administers the funds for the Office of Labor and Workforce Development.  “This program allows small businesses that may not otherwise apply for a grant on their own to quickly gain access to training on topics in highest demand.” 

AIM delivers hundreds of supervisory skills training sessions each year in seminar and private settings. The staff of 10 instructors averages several decades of management and human resources experience across a variety of industries.

“The grant provides employers with a unique opportunity to improve productivity, build leadership and address legal compliance concerns at no out-of-pocket cost,” said Lori Bourgoin, Vice President of Educational Programs at AIM.

“Nothing drives workforce engagement, productivity and retention more than front-line leadership.  Well trained supervisors determine whether employees support change or resist, grow into the business or tune out.”

You may also contact Kaitlyn Buckley (kbuckley@aimnet.org  ) or Lori Bourgoin (lbourgoin@aimnet.org) for more details.

 

Topics: Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund, Training, Workforce Training

Morgan Memorial Goodwill Earns 2016 Gould Education and Work Force Award

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Apr 27, 2016 1:02:37 PM

Most people know Goodwill for its retail stores that sell everything from gently used clothing to home furnishings.

Not enough people know that those stores are the face of a sophisticated job-training and placement organization that helps thousands of people of all abilities break into the employment market and contribute to the Massachusetts economy.

Goodwill.jpgThis job training and placement work over many decades has earned Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries of Boston the 2016 John Gould Education and Workforce Development Award from Associated Industries of Massachusetts. The award will be presented before 750 Bay State business leaders at the AIM Annual Meeting May 13 at the Westin Waterfront hotel in Boston.

Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries helps more than 8,200 people prepare for jobs each year – 7,700 people through Boston Career Link, the one-stop career center it operates, and another 560 people through its job training, including the First Step Job Readiness Program and the Human Services Employment Ladder Program. Goodwill’s mission is to help individuals with barriers to self-sufficiency to achieve independence and dignity through work.

“Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries plays a central role in matching qualified job candidates with companies across industries such as retail, health care and banking that require large numbers of entry-level employees,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

“The work done at Goodwill not only provides hard-working people a pathway into the job market, but also meets the need of employers to address the most prevalent challenge they face in a growing economy – finding good employees.”

Goodwill collaborates with hundreds of employers to promote and facilitate the hiring of the individuals it serves. The organization’s business partners include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Citizens Bank, Northeastern University, Stacy’s Pita Chip Company, and the TJX Companies. Many of those employers participate in on-site recruitment events, industry briefings, and career fairs at Boston Career Link, which connect businesses to qualified job seekers.

The Human Services Employment Ladder Program prepares individuals for entry level positions in the burgeoning human services field. The program’s business advisory council is made up of eleven employers, including Pine Street Inn, Vinfen, and Walnut Street Center.

“Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries and all our partners are honored to be recognized with the 18th annual John Gould award from AIM,” said Joanne Hilferty, who has served as president and chief executive officer since 1995.

“It’s fitting that Goodwill receive this award from a business association, since our collaborations with hundreds of Massachusetts employers brings trained, dedicated employees to the workforce, and helps people move to economic self-sufficiency. The award honors every staff member, partner and participant whose hard work makes all this happen.”

The Gould Award was established in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers, and institutions to the quality of public education and the advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the commonwealth. In 2000, the award was named after John Gould, upon his retirement as President and CEO of AIM, to recognize his work to improve the quality of public education and workforce training activities in Massachusetts.   

Goodwill’s headquarters and the Career Link one-stop center are in Boston. The organization also operates  job training centers in Boston and Salem;  a distribution center in Boston;  and stores in Boston, South Boston, Allston/Brighton, Cambridge, Worcester, Somerville, Quincy, South Attleboro, and Hyannis. The organization employs 375 people.

Register for the 2016 AIM Annual Meeting

Topics: Skills Gap, Education, Workforce Training

Verizon Executive Heads New Workforce Board

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Feb 29, 2016 7:09:32 AM

A Verizon executive who last year co-chaired the Associated Industries of Massachusetts centennial will lead a new state panel charged with improving the Massachusetts work-force development system.

Cupelo.jpgVerizon New England Region President Donna Cupelo will chair the Massachusetts Workforce Development Board, created by Governor Charlie Baker in December to improve the accountability of the state’s One-Stop Career Centers and regional workforce boards. The board will also include three members of the AIM Board of Directors and several representatives of AIM-member employers.

“The Workforce Development Board will allow us to reimagine how we create skill-building programs across the state,” Baker said while swearing in board members last Thursday.

“Our administration is focused on driving economic growth and creating new job opportunities by designing programs that meet the demands of businesses in each region, and give workers the skills they need to fill job openings.”

The primary task of the board will be to ensure that the commonwealth’s far-flung training programs develop the skills demanded by employers.  The board will also recommend strategies to promote workforce participation of women, people of color, veterans, and persons with disabilities across industry sectors.

The Workforce Development Board reconstitutes the former Workforce Investment Board by reducing its membership from 65 to 33 members and ensuring the makeup of the board complies with federal requirements under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The board will consist of 17 business representatives and seven work force representatives – including four representatives from community-based organizations and two from labor, one of which is chosen by the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE).

Executive Branch representatives from the Executive Offices of Labor and Workforce Development, Health and Human Services, Housing and Economic Development and Education will also serve in addition to the governor’s designee, two state legislators and two local government representatives.

WIOA was signed into law by the President on July 22, 2014 replacing the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, with the goal to transform the nation’s workforce system and to invest in a skilled workforce.

In addition to Cupelo, AIM members serving on the board include:

  • Joanne Berwald, an AIM director and vice president of human resources at Mestek Inc., a global HVAC manufacturer in Westfield.
  • Anne Broholm, also an AIM director and chief executive officer of AHEAD, LLC, which provides a variety of products to the golf industry.
  • Gerard E. Burke is the president and CEO of Hillcrest Educational Centers Inc., a role he has held since 1992.
  • Susan Mailman is the owner and president of Coghlin Electrical Contractors, Inc., a fourth generation family-owned electrical, telecommunications, and networking business located in Worcester.
  • Joanne M. Pokaski is director of workforce development at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
  • Elizabeth Williams, an AIM director and president and CEO of Roxbury Technology Corp., a Boston-based company that remanufactures recycled inkjet and laser toner printer cartridges.

"Finding employees with the requisite skills to succeed in the global economy is the dominant concern of Massachusetts employers in 2016. We're delighted that Donna Cupelo will chair the new Workforce Development Board with the able collaboration of so many gifted employers," said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.


Topics: Skills Gap, Workforce Training

Employers Give Mixed Grades to Community Colleges

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Feb 22, 2016 9:29:45 AM

Massachusetts employers give a mixed report card to the commonwealth’s community colleges, though more than a quarter of companies responding to a new AIM survey report having little or no contact with their local two-year institutions.

Education.jpgTwenty-six percent of the employers who responded to the survey, which was included in AIM’s monthly Business Confidence Index for February, rate the performance of their local community colleges as good. Another 25 percent rate that performance as fair, while 6 percent regard it as outstanding and 14 percent as poor.

Twenty-eight percent of employers say they do not have contact with community colleges. Most of those companies identify themselves as manufacturers looking for people with specific skills rather than college background.

“We are a learn-on-the job manufacturing company,” concluded one employer.

Other manufacturers appear to be turning to employer-driven training initiatives such as the Manufacturing Assistance Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative (MACWIC) to find qualified workers.

The survey results are based upon responses during February from 165 Massachusetts employers.

Katie Holahan, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM, said that while the association encourages employers to use the resources available from community colleges, it’s not necessarily negative that many do not.

“Companies have diverse training and educational needs both for recruiting workers and product development. Community colleges provide those services for some companies but may not be a fit for everyone,” Holahan said.

Providing workers with the skills needed for the global economy is a cornerstone of AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century economic plan for Massachusetts.  The document recommends expanding performance-based funding for community colleges and establishing five-year performance benchmarks on work-force development and civic learning for the entire system.

“Government and business must develop the best system in the world for educating and training workers with the skills needed to allow Massachusetts companies to succeed in a rapidly changing global economy,” the Blueprint says.

Massachusetts’ 15 community colleges serve 184,000 students from the Berkshires to Cape Cod. The institutions also conduct training, retraining, certification, skills improvement, and program development for more than 3,191 organizations including local business and industry, nonprofits, unions, as well as state and federal agencies.  

AIM’s closely watched Business Confidence Index will be made public next week.

Topics: Education, Workforce Training, Community Colleges

15 AIM Members Win Work-Force Training Grants

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Dec 10, 2015 2:50:06 PM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts congratulates 15 member employers who won Workforce Training Fund Program (WTFP) grants from the commonwealth yesterday.

ManufacturingWorkerSmall.jpgThe AIM-member employers were among 87 companies and training organizations that will share in more than $8.9 million to improve the skills of more than 7,500 existing and newly hired employees.

“With each opportunity to provide more training, skills and education, we are providing our residents and companies located here the ability to remain competitive in a global marketplace,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “As we work to close the workforce skills gap and ensure our workforce remains among the strongest in the nation, these grants will provide an important level of support and training.”

The Workforce Training Fund provides grants up to $250,000 to companies of any size in Massachusetts to pay for workforce training over a two-year period. Grants are awarded to projects that will upgrade workers skills, increase the productivity and competitiveness of Massachusetts businesses, and create jobs. Grants are matched dollar-for-dollar by the recipients.

Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM and Chair of the Workforce Training Fund Program Advisory Board, said developing highly trained employees is essential to succeeding in the competitive Massachusetts economy.

“Employers across the commonwealth place a high value on having a highly skilled workforce,” Lord said. “I am pleased to see more businesses taking advantage of the Workforce Training Fund, which is an important tool for making Massachusetts businesses more competitive by investing in the skills of their workers.”

AIM members receiving grants were:

  • RH White Companies, Inc., Auburn, was awarded $118,730 to train 188 workers; 20 additional jobs anticipated by 2017.
  • Legal Sea Foods LLC, Boston, was awarded $163,200 to train 28 workers; six additional jobs are anticipated by 2017.
  • AliMed, Inc., Dedham, was awarded $133,610 to train 202 workers; six additional jobs are anticipated by 2017.
  • Westside Finishing Company, Inc., Holyoke, was awarded $112,801 to train 45 workers; two additional jobs are anticipated by 2017.
  • RPP Corporation, Lawrence, was awarded $96,200 to train 100 workers; eight additional jobs are anticipated by 2017.
  • MACOM, Lowell, was awarded $247,200 to train 205 workers; eight additional jobs are anticipated expect by 2017.
  • Trip Advisor Holdings LLC, Needham, was awarded $230,000 to train 450 workers; 44 additional jobs are anticipated by 2017.
  • Palmer Foundry, Palmer, was awarded $96,512 to train 58 workers; six additional jobs are expected by 2017.
  • Atrenne Computing Solutions, Randolph, was awarded $96,260 to train 134 workers; four additional jobs are expected by 2017.
  • Solar Seal, South Easton, was awarded $86,670 to train 106 workers; four additional jobs are expected by 2017.
  • Artisan Industries, Inc., Stoughton, was awarded $224,400 to train 74 workers; five additional jobs are expected by 2017.
  • Mestek, Inc., Westfield,  was awarded $103,709 to train 30 workers; two additional jobs are expected by 2017.
  • Westfield Electroplating Company, Inc., Westfield, was awarded $82,000 to train 58 workers; two additional jobs are expected by 2017.
  • Lytron, Inc., Woburn, was awarded $247,540 to train 120 workers; three additional jobs are expected by 2017.
  • Peterson Party Center, Woburn, was awarded $219,590 to train 259 workers; 20 additional jobs are expected by 2017.

 

Topics: Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund, Workforce Training

CVS Health, Mass Rehabilitation Commission Win Gould Education and Training Award

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Apr 9, 2015 10:27:00 AM

A groundbreaking program developed by CVS Health and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) to train people with disabilities to become pharmacy technicians will receive the 2015 John Gould Education & Workforce Development Award from Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

CVSHealthThe Pharmacy Technician Training Program is an innovative eight-week training session developed for MRC consumers who are seeking employment and have shown interest in careers in health services. The initiative marries CVS Health’s growing need for skilled technicians at its 7,800 retail pharmacies with Mass Rehab’s commitment to training people for high-demand jobs.

CVS Health and Mass Rehab will receive the award at AIM’s Centennial Annual Meeting on May 8 at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel.

“The most critical challenge before us is affording every citizen the opportunity to participate in and contribute to building our commonwealth’s future,” said Richard C. Lord, AIM’s President and CEO. “We are Mass_Rehab_Commissionpleased and proud to honor this successful collaboration between a major employer and a key public agency to prepare motivated people for productive and rewarding career paths.”

CVS Health, an AIM member company, supports the training program by sharing its pharmacy technician training curriculum and providing access to its learning-management system. MRC provides added resources and expertise around soft-skills training and job readiness to meet the needs of consumers while addressing CVS Health’s staffing needs.

The first cohort of the program was conducted during the summer of 2014 with nearly 30 pre-screened, qualified candidates. Eighty-nine percent of those candidates were hired as technicians. A second class graduated 43 consumers on March 23 in a ceremony held in the Great Hall of Flags at the State House.  Several graduates have already obtained employment and others are moving forward in the employment process with CVS.

“At CVS Health, we’re proud to offer vital job training and development services to the many communities we serve, including individuals with disabilities,” said Richard Laferriere, Lead Manager, Workforce Initiatives, for CVS Health. “We know that our best and brightest colleagues come from a variety of backgrounds, cultures and experiences. Our partnership with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission is not only connecting participants with important career training opportunities, it is also connecting our company with talented individuals who are an asset to our retail pharmacy teams.”

The Gould Award was established in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers, and institutions to the quality of public education and the advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the Commonwealth. In 2000, the award was named after John Gould, upon his retirement as President and CEO of AIM, to recognize his work to improve the quality of public education and workforce training activities in Massachusetts.   

CVS Health operates retail pharmacies, more than 900 walk-in medical clinics, and acts as a pharmacy benefits manager for nearly 65 million health-plan members. MRC assists individuals with disabilities to live and work more independently. MRC is responsible for vocational rehabilitation, community living, and disability determination services. 

Topics: AIM Annual Meeting, Training, Workforce Training

Work Force Grant Will Allow AIM to Provide Free Training for Supervisors

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Oct 16, 2014 3:48:00 PM

Employers will be able to improve the skills of their key supervisors at no cost under a $200,000 grant awarded to Associated Industries of Massachusetts today by the state Workforce Training Fund Program (WTFP).

FourpeopleAIM’s supervisory/leadership training series was among 10 initiatives to win grants under the WTFP Regional Training Capacity Pilot Program.

The grants, announced this afternoon at UPS in Watertown, are designed to meet regional demands for training that may not have the scope or scale to merit a standard Workforce Training Grant. The awards will also help larger organizations that want to offer leadership education to limited populations of new hires, a leadership bench player or newly promoted supervisor.

“A large segment of leadership teams are comprised of home-grown, high potential people who have shown technical ability, but who have not had the chance to learn the human relations and decision making skills that are important to helping others succeed,” said Gary MacDonald, Executive Vice President of AIM.

“AIM’s Supervisory Skills program focuses on these complementary skill sets, resulting in better retention of talent, a more engaged and adaptive workforce, and improved productivity and bottom-line results.”

MacDonald said companies face a multitude of internal and external issues that can be resolved, minimized or avoided by good supervisory and leadership practices:

  • Retention and turnover
  • Legal compliance and understanding of obligations under the law
  • Hiring the right person
  • Effective communication practices
  • Delegation and prioritization
  • Identifying and solving problems
  • Becoming an agent for and a leader of organizational change
  • Generating ideas and innovation
  • Developing and working in teams with multicultural & multigenerational members
  • Increasing employee performance
  • Understanding leadership responsibilities and accountabilities.

AIM plans to run its Supervisory Skills program multiple times during 2015 in five locations – Bridgewater, Burlington, Fitchburg, Holyoke and Marlborough.  The program content is applicable to any industry.

The Regional Training Capacity Pilot Program awarded grants to other organizations for computer skills, English for Speakers of other Languages, Manufacturing Skills and Process Improvement. The 10 grants total a $2 million state investment in work force training.

"We are very interested in helping small businesses access the fund either individually or through collaborations with other businesses with similar needs.” said Nancy Snyder, President and CEO of Commonwealth Corporation, which administers the funds for the Office of Labor and Workforce Development.  “This program allows small businesses that may not otherwise apply for a grant on their own to quickly gain access to training on topics in highest demand.” 

AIM delivers hundreds of supervisory skills training sessions each year in seminar and private settings. The staff of 10 instructors averages several decades of management and human resources experience across a variety of industries.

“The grant provides employers with a unique opportunity to improve productivity, build leadership and address legal compliance concerns at no out-of-pocket cost,” said Lori Bourgoin, Vice President of Educational Programs at AIM.

“Nothing drives workforce engagement, productivity and retention more than front-line leadership.  Well trained supervisors determine whether employees support change or resist, grow into the business or tune out.”

Please contact Bourgoin (lbourgoin@aimnet.org) at AIM for more information.

 

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Management, Human Resources, Workforce Training

Siemens Donation Underscores Growing Software Role in Manufacturing

Posted by Brian Gilmore on May 27, 2014 3:07:00 PM

Can manufacturing in Massachusetts grow in the face of rapid technological change, globalization, and an industrial landscape with emerging gaps in workforce development?

ManufacturingA hopeful sign came last month when Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of Siemens Industry Automation Division, announced nearly $600 million of industry software grants for manufacturing programs at vocational schools, community colleges and universities throughout Massachusetts.

Software plays an important role in the new era of manufacturing. Students and faculty will use the software in assignments and research related to computer-aided-design, engineering simulation, industrial design, digital manufacturing and manufacturing management – advanced skills sought by global manufacturers.

Thirteen academic partners throughout the state are receiving in-kind software grants to support the Applied Manufacturing Technology Certification Pathway developed by Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Initiative (MACWIC). The program received AIM’s Gould Education & Workforce Development Award at the last years’ annual meeting.

Academic partners include Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Fitchburg State University, Berkshire and Quinsigamond community colleges, and vocational-technical schools in Worcester and New Bedford. Using the software in their coursework, students can develop the advanced skills sought by more than 77,000 customers who utilize Siemens’ software and technology solutions. This includes nearly 150 companies in the commonwealth such as Raytheon and Bose. 

MACWIC is an employer-led initiative to strengthen workforce development in the manufacturing sector. Siemens, the multinational technology company, is founding member of MACWIC through its Metals Technologies (MT) business, with its advanced manufacturing facility in Worcester. Siemens’ announcement, beyond the fact of a generous and far-sighted donation, underlines two points about our industrial future: that manufacturers themselves are taking the initiative in addressing together the needs of their sector; and that international companies, along with locally-based ones, can be full participants in the effort.

Topics: Technology, Manufacturing, Workforce Training

What is a Job Applicant's College Degree Worth?

Posted by Andre Mayer on Apr 10, 2014 11:09:00 AM

How can an employer judge what a job applicant’s college degree is worth?

How, for that matter, can the college itself tell how good its educational programs are, and how to improve them?

The public colleges and universities of Massachusetts, which received mixed grades for job preparation on a recent employer survey co-sponsored by AIM, are working to answer those questions.

FreelandIt's an undertaking of vital importance to the economic future of the commonwealth, Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland (right) told AIM’s Public Affairs Council last Friday, because by 2020 some 72 percent of jobs in the state will require a college education, and the public system has become the dominant source resident graduates.

Massachusetts has undertaken an ambitious effort to measure what college students have learned and what they can do. The idea is to apply those measurements across institutions and states to compare the effectiveness of college programs, and eventually of individual instructors.

Unlike the input-heavy accreditation process, or exit exams for basic academic skills, the new approach will evaluate actual student coursework. After being tested last year on six Massachusetts campuses, the model is being extended to nine other states, with backing from major national education organizations. Such an assessment and accountability system will be especially valuable for institutions that cannot be judged by admissions numbers or research grants.

The initiative is part of the Board of Higher Education’s Vision Project, intended to move Massachusetts public higher education to a position of leadership among state systems in seven areas: college participation, college completion, student learning, workforce alignment, preparing citizens, research, and closing achievement gaps.

Presenting the project's year-two report, "Within Our Sights," Freeland was candid about how far the public higher education system has to go, but also noted areas of continuing success  in the areas of participation and research. Partial restoration in the Fiscal Year 2014 state budget of overall system funding, which suffered severe cuts during the fiscal crisis (to the extent that, for example, 80 percent of community college courses are currently taught by adjunct faculty, to the detriment of student support and advising) is important in itself, and includes a key initiative to base community college funding more heavily on performance.  A pilot project at Bridgewater State University demonstrated that intensive support services can close achievement gaps between students of differing backgrounds.

AIM member-employers are deeply concerned with the preparation of the state's future workforce – and with their own ability to assess that preparation. As taxpayers, we all want to see state resources used effectively and efficiently. As citizens (and parents) we value education and the opportunity it brings. We commend the constructive candor of the Board of Higher Education, and the efforts of the commissioner working with campus administrators and faculty to move the system forward.

AIM looks forward to reporting to employers on the progress of the measurement initiative.

Topics: Education, Workforce Training

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