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 (  ) or Lori Bourgoin ( for more details.


Topics: Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund, Training, Workforce Training

UMass Students, Waters Corp. Solve Science Challenges

Posted by Bob Paine on Jan 6, 2016 9:58:52 AM

For the past three years, AIM member Waters Corporation has worked with a groundbreaking program at UMass Amherst that prepares science students for real-world problem-solving in their careers. As a developer of innovative analytical science solutions for more than 50 years, Waters recognizes the benefits of preparing undergraduates for the realities of work in the science sector.

iCons-1.jpgThe UMass Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program is designed to address the growing demand for workers with a solid science and technology education who can also grapple with practical problems and situations. While gaining deep knowledge in highly specialized science and technology fields remains essential, now more than ever, students must also be adept at teamwork, communication, leadership, and interdisciplinary systems thinking.

Companies like Waters identify and recruit employees armed with these essential skills. The iCons Program is an innovator in developing students who can meet this need and thrive in competitive, fast-paced tech industries.

Such initiatives are consistent with AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century long-term economic plan, which identifies the ability of employers to hire qualified workers as the primary challenge facing the Massachusetts economy during the next decade.

According to UMass iCons Program Director Professor Scott Auerbach, iCons students form diverse student teams to tackle problems such as antibiotic resistance and climate change by working in classrooms, in research labs, and in collaboration with industry partners like Waters. Based on input from partner companies, Auerbach believes that iCons training gives students a competitive edge that enhances their careers and ultimately benefits the businesses they join.

Early on, the team at Waters saw the potential of this unique program and signed on as its first corporate partner. As a member of the UMass iCons Corporate Alliance, Waters has access to some of the best and brightest students at UMass for its internship program, and also works closely with the iCons leadership team to develop relevant classroom case studies. 

“Based on our experience, UMass iCons students work above and beyond their internship-level experience. These students fit easily into a team-based environment and address unique and challenging assignments not typically associated with undergraduate students,” said Daniel J. McCormick, Chief Technology Officer, Waters.

“Waters Corporation has benefited from the UMass iCons Program in ways that are measurable to our research and development programs.”

Topics: Skills Gap, Education, 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

AIM, MindEdge Announce E-Learning Initiative

Posted by Rick Lord on Sep 15, 2014 9:16:06 AM

Thousands of Massachusetts employers will gain access to state-of-the-art online professional development courses under an alliance announced today by Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) and Waltham-based MindeEdge Inc.

AIM_MindEdgeAIM, the largest employer association in Massachusetts, will expand its existing lineup of human resources, legal compliance and management education courses with interactive e-learning offerings from MindEdge in areas such as project management, sustainability and finance. AIM and MindEdge will also collaborate on new courses important to employers such as LEAN management.

AIM spent a great deal of time seeking an online learning solution that reflects the excellence and high standards our member employers have come to expect from our in-person seminars and on-site training and education. MindEdge was founded in 1998 by Harvard and MIT educators and the company continues to innovate in the rapidly changing landscape of online education.

The 4,500 member employers of AIM are delighted to be working with such a world-class company located right here in Massachusetts.

“Employers in growing numbers are going online for employee training and education, but AIM wanted to be certain that the online courses we offered to members were effective and met the learning objectives of busy employers. We have done that with MindEdge,” said Gary MacDonald, Executive Vice President of the AIM Employers Resource Group.

All of the courses are mobile-enabled, meaning that employers and their workers will have the option to access information via a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

MindEdge specializes in higher education and professional development content and technology solutions. The company’s webtexts feature narrative, interactive learning case studies and simulations, as well as adaptive learning technology to maximize learner mastery of the content.

The MindEdge platform also includes a learning-management system that allows company training managers to monitor the progress of employees taking each course.

The alliance will provide the 4,500 member employers of AIM access to online courses in areas such as:

  • Communication
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Human Resource Management
  • International Trade
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Project Management
  • Sustainable Management

“We’re pleased to join AIM in offering online learning that is both convenient and effective for Massachusetts employers,” said Jefferson Flanders, CEO and President of MindEdge.

“AIM is acknowledged to be the leading provider of management and human resources training and education to Massachusetts companies. MindEdge will seek to extend that commitment to quality into the online world.”

Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) improves the financial performance of member companies through a unique combination of lobbying, management and human-resource services that allow employers to control the environment both inside and outside their businesses. AIM provides management and HR services that increase workforce productivity and improve the recruitment, retention and training of talented people.

MindEdge, a learning company based in Waltham, provides leadership, management, communication, and educational solutions for organizations to help them meet their objectives.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Education, Training

Congress Overhauls Job Training Programs

Posted by Kristen Lepore on Jul 14, 2014 6:48:51 AM

Congress last week mustered rare and overwhelming bipartisan support to pass legislation that will streamline the sprawling federal workforce training system by eliminating 15 programs. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is designed to ensure that American workers attain skills for 21st- century jobs, to improve existing federal job training programs and to connect businesses with the skilled employees they need.

USCapitolIt marks the first time in more than a decade that the nation’s workforce training programs have been updated, though it remains unclear how the changes will play out on the state level.  The measure attracted unanimous support from the Massachusetts Congressional delegation.

Many Americans are not equipped with the necessary skills and education needed for high-demand careers in the knowledge economy. Experts project that the number of workers needed to filled highly skilled jobs will fall short by 11 million nationally in the next decade.  

Massachusetts faces a similar shortage. Northeastern University Economist Barry Bluestone estimates that that 100,000 skilled manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts will open up in the next decade as older workers retire. The number of young people graduating from Massachusetts high schools, meanwhile, is projected to fall by 9 percent by 2020.

What has been lacking in the face of a developing skills crisis is a coordinated solution.

The Federal legislation makes changes to encourage accountable state job-training strategies.  States will now be required to produce a single strategic plan describing how they will provide training, employment services, adult education and vocational rehabilitation through a coordinated, comprehensive system. 

We couldn’t agree more.  A well-thought out unified plan on how to solve this problem is sorely needed. 

AIM is developing its own strategic plan for Massachusetts. The Blueprint for the Next Century is a plan to create jobs, prosperity and economic growth in the coming decades. The document will outline problems and solutions to help jumpstart the Massachusetts economy, including how to solve the shortage of skilled workers.

We look forward to sharing our plan with state and congressional leaders.  

Topics: Training, Jobs

Community College Funding to be Based upon Performance

Posted by Andre Mayer on Jul 12, 2013 3:14:00 PM

In a significant step towards making the Massachusetts public higher education more responsive to the workforce needs of employers, the Fiscal Year 2014 approved by the House and Senate and signed by Governor Deval Patrick today includes funding and language carrying forward reform of the state’s 15 community colleges.

Community collegesThe centerpiece is a $20 million performance-based funding component, allocated according to a new formula that measures each college's performance on a set of metrics that includes graduating students who have the skills needed by the key sectors of the Massachusetts economy. In addition, the budget restores $5 million to the Department of Higher Education for performance management initiatives at community colleges to promote higher completion rates, the adoption of common course numbering, and consolidation and coordination of administrative and procurement processes.

For Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland, who persuaded the college presidents to support the initiative, the legislative action represents important progress towards realization of his vision, presented to AIM's Public Affairs Council last year, of a public higher education system that responds effectively to the Commonwealth's economic needs.

It is also a victory for the 18-month reform push of the Coalition FOR Community Colleges, in which AIM participates along with other business and civic organizations and number of employer members.

 "We remain more convinced than ever that our community colleges are a vital tool for the social and economic betterment of our Commonwealth, and now they have the funding, tools, and accountability measures to move forward," commented Mary Jo Meisner of The Boston Foundation, who coordinates the coalition.

AIM's view has been that improvements in funding strategy, more than adjustments to mission statements and governance structure, would drive needed change in the community college. We thank the Legislature and especially the conference committee, led by Ways & Means Chairmen Sen. Stephen Brewer and Rep. Brian Dempsey, for taking this important step.


Topics: Business Center, Education, Training

Life Sciences Intern Challenge Leads to Significant Discoveries

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Jun 11, 2013 12:08:00 PM

Massachusetts graduate student Brian Dutra recently won first place at an international engineering competition for his research on acoustics in the bloodstream. Applications of his research include the detection of cancer cells in the bloodstream, filtering contaminants out of polluted water, and separating algae-based biofuels from biomass.

Molecular Structures.SmallDutra performed his groundbreaking research as an intern at a local company, FloDesign Sonics, in Wilbraham, Mass. He completed his internship through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s (MLSC)Internship Challenge program.

The Challenge provides students and recent college graduates with hands-on work experience through paid internships at life sciences companies across the state.

AIM members like Albright Technologies of Leominster, Mass., have participated. Since 2010, Albright Technologies has hired seven interns subsidized by the MLSC.

“Since first participating in the Internship Challenge, we have permanently hired two of our interns as Project Managers," said Bob Waitt, President of Albright Technologies.

“All three of our engineers started at Albright as interns, two of them as part of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Internship Challenge. Their hard work and dedication has contributed to 31 percent growth since 2011,” Waitt said.

The MLSC’s Internship Challenge enables life sciences companies of 100 or fewer employees in Massachusetts, or 250 or fewer worldwide, to identify and hire interns interested in developing their careers in the life sciences industry. The MLSC maintains an online portal to help companies find qualified interns, and reimburses companies for their interns’ salaries, up to $7,200 per intern. Larger life sciences companies may source interns through the MLSC’s online portal, but are not eligible for reimbursement.

In addition to exposing local life sciences companies to top-rate talent, this program provides opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, diagnostics and bioinformatics industry sectors.

Since the program first launched in 2009, the MLSC has placed nearly 1,200 interns with 335 companies. Many of these interns have indicated that their MLSC internship helped them decide that they would like to pursue a career in the life sciences.

In 2012, the MLSC received federal grant funding to support the expansion of the Internship Challenge program. The MLSC will receive $800,000 over four years as part of a $5 million grant awarded to the City of Boston from the U.S. Department of Labor intended to grow and maintain the area’s life sciences workforce. The Internship Challenge is now serving as a model for the establishment of similar programs at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

To learn more about the MLSC’s Internship Challenge program, click here.

Topics: Life Sciences, Business Center, Training

Don't Tap Unemployment Fund to Train Jobless Workers

Posted by John Regan on May 31, 2013 1:13:00 PM

A proposal by a Beacon Hill lawmaker to tap the Massachusetts Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to train jobless workers is a non-starter for Bay State employers.

Workforce TrainingSenator Daniel Wolf, D-Harwich, House Chair of the Legislature’s Labor and Workforce Development, suggested during a hearing this week that using UI funds to prepare unemployed people for skilled jobs in the private sector would relieve financial pressure on the UI system.

“There are those in the Legislature, myself included, who look at this as an opportunity to talk about  unemployment insurance and the gap between skilled workers and the needs of employers. We would love to continue that dialogue so that as we reform the UI, not only do we look for ways perhaps to lower the rates or freeze them, but to actually build into those rates some kind of a commitment to workforce training,” Wolf said.

“If what we’re doing is using that fund, whatever fund it goes into, to enhance the skills of workers for the benefit not only of themselves but for the employers of Massachusetts, then this would be the logical place to look for that capacity.”

Associated Industries of Massachusetts has long been committed to improving the skills of workers – our President, Rick Lord, chairs the Workforce Training Fund Program Advisory Board – but we are equally committed to preserving the integrity of the Unemployment Insurance system to pay benefits to people who have lost their jobs.

Massachusetts employers already pay among the highest UI costs in the nation, driven by the commonwealth’s high wages, relatively lenient qualification requirements and overly generous benefit structure. The average UI tax in Massachusetts is $769 per employee per year versus the national average of $361.

Lawmakers and Governor Deval Patrick have been forced to freeze unemployment rates in each of the past five years to head off automatic increases of 30 percent or more, even though the Massachusetts UI system has been more solvent than those in other states. The freeze approved for 2013 will still leave the UI system with an estimated surplus of $600 million at the end of the year.

A portion of employer Unemployment Insurance taxes is already diverted to provide money to the Workforce Training Fund Program, which pays a portion of the cost to upgrade the skills of people who are already working. AIM opposes initiatives to divert any more money from the fund, however laudable the objective.

The stability of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and worker training may be related, but are ultimately separate issues that should be addressed as such.

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Unemployment insurance, Issues, Training

Employers Have Stake in Education, Training of Future Workers

Posted by Andre Mayer on May 22, 2013 10:59:00 AM

Having trouble finding qualified applicants for job openings?

Education and trainingIt's not just you – and it's going to get worse.

Eighty-one percent of Massachusetts jobs are currently classified as middle-skill or high-skill, and within this decade 70 percent will require postsecondary education. Yet only half of Massachusetts adults today have some postsecondary qualification, and the next generation (relying on guidance from peers, parents and teachers) does not fully understand the demands and opportunities of the world in which they will pursue their careers.

That was the sobering message at the Future Ready Summit at Worcester's DCU Center on Monday.

Future Ready Massachusetts is a public communication campaign promoting college and career programs that exist across the state. It is a collaborative project of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE), the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) in partnership with Achieve Inc., a national nonprofit education reform organization.

Among the more than 500 attendees at the summit, there was only a scattering of business people.

Organizers of the Future Ready campaign say students must acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to complete education and training that will provide access to careers of choice. The campaign's key messages are:

  • Start Now: It's never too early (or too late) to begin planning.
  • Aim High: Students who challenge themselves through a rigorous course of study usually go the farthest.
  • Look Beyond: Look outside the classroom for learning opportunities that support career readiness.

The employer role falls largely under the third heading, but the others are also important. Although we often focus on high school, panelist Kathleen Finn of IBM pointed out, there are age-appropriate ways to get younger students to start thinking about careers. Finn also noted that while small companies do not have the resources of large ones like hers, they represent in aggregate a huge reservoir of talent in every community that can engage with schools and students locally.

The employer community has a vital stake in the success of education in Massachusetts. The small turnout of business people at the Worcester summit was hardly surprising – but the effort will fail without their substantial engagement at the local level.

Topics: Business Center, Education, Training

Generational Transition Creates Skills Gap for Massachusetts

Posted by Andre Mayer on Apr 24, 2013 3:08:00 PM

Companies are expanding the concept of "succession planning" beyond top executive positions to their entire workforces – and Massachusetts should be thinking along the same lines, Yolanda Kodrzycki, Director of the New England Public Policy Center (NEPPC) at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, told an audience representing employers, government and education on Wednesday morning.

Skills gapOur state's incumbent workforce, Kodrzycki noted, is the twelfth-oldest in the country, but outside Greater Boston, a magnet for young people, it is fourth-oldest, behind only Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The ongoing generational transition is complicated by deficiencies in the skills pipeline and by limited opportunities for young people to gain work experience.

Kodrycki spoke at the release of a report, "Closing the Massachusetts Skills Gap," that completes an 18-month project examining labor demand and supply regionally and statewide. Commonwealth Corporation, a quasi-public workforce agency, commissioned the analysis from NEPPC; Eastern Bank supported the report's production. For employer s concerned about workforce issues, the statewide report and the eight regional reports offer a mine of information and insights. 

Speakers at the release event included the state secretaries of Labor and Workforce Development and Education, Nancy Snyder of Commonwealth Corporation, Wanda McClain of Brigham & Women's Hospital, and Nancy Stager of Eastern Bank.

Recommendations to address the skills gap are proposed by Commonwealth Corporation fall under four headings:

  • Improve employment outcomes for young workers (teens through post-secondary) through work experiences, internships, coaching, and more flexible hiring practices
  • Expand the scale and intensity of Adult Basic Education and English language programs, with more cooperation between employers and educational programs.
  • Align education with persistent and emerging skill needs, again stressing links between industry and training providers.
  • Craft more effective and accessible educational models that support ongoing skill development and lifelong learning, such as the newly streamlined Workforce Training Fund Program.


Topics: Skills Gap, Massachusetts economy, Training

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