Education Bill Contains Business-Backed Standards

Posted by Katie Holahan on Nov 21, 2019 11:36:35 AM

The Massachusetts Legislature yesterday approved a $1.5 billion education-funding bill that includes measures supported by the business community allowing the state to hold school districts accountable for how they spend the money.

State House 2015The bill, which now heads to Governor Charlie Baker for his consideration, will align community needs with goals and outcome-based measurements, creating an education system that is responsive to the demands of the future workforce.  AIM has long insisted that preparing students for college and the workforce remain a vital component of the education-funding discussion.

“By requiring school districts to consider how they might best prepare students for both college and careers, and by collecting and reporting on important data metrics, the conference committee report strengthens our ability as a commonwealth to support students as they choose from diverse opportunities after high school,” AIM President and Chief Executive Officer John Regan wrote in a letter to lawmakers this morning.

“Our efforts to enhance students’ economic opportunities should not end at graduation.  There is still much important work to be done to close racial and socio-economic achievement gaps and bring more career-connected learning to Massachusetts schools. Employers across the commonwealth are proud to be part of this continued effort and discussion.” 

The final version of the bill emerged this week from a House-Senate conference committee. The House passed a version in October that included strong accountability measures, but the Senate version omitted some of those measures.

Education matters to Massachusetts employers because the commonwealth’s highly regarded schools provide a competitive advantage over other states and countries. AIM’s member companies, however, have become increasingly concerned that Massachusetts students are graduating from high school without the knowledge and skills they need to enter the workforce or to succeed in college. 

At the same time, businesses report a persistent shortage of qualified candidates to fill open jobs, many of which pay high wages in growing industries. The skills shortage appears to be impeding economic growth and expansion - the state economy contracted modestly during the third quarter because of workforce capacity limits.

AIM applauds the House and a Senate for their passage and urges Governor Baker to sign the education funding bill.

Topics: Education Reform, Education, Workforce Training

More Substance, Fewer Stunts in Education Debate

Posted by John Regan on Aug 7, 2019 8:30:00 AM

A so-called “beach party” set up outside the State House last week by education funding advocates was a disrespectful and frivolous stunt carried out by people who should instead be focused on the well-being and economic futures of Massachusetts schoolchildren. 

BeachPartyThe point of the beach party, complete with beach balls and shaved ice with flavors such as “accountability slime lime,” was to excoriate the Legislature for going on summer recess without passing a massive restructuring of the funding formula for public schools. 

The fiscal 2020 budget Governor Charlie Baker signed last week includes a $268 million increase in state assistance for K-12 education, but activists want a multi-year commitment to ramp up education spending and address gaps in the quality of education from one community to another.

The beach party was the latest in a series of questionable antics perpetrated by the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance and allies who want billions of dollars in additional education spending with no accountability for results.

In May, Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy posted a photo to Facebook of herself and three other women smiling and clutching fake pearl necklaces with a caption that read, "Alice Peisch, let go of the wealth and #FundOurFuture."

Rep. Alice Peisch, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, often wears pearls and the prop suggested that she could not understand the circumstances of poorer students because she lives in the wealthy suburb of Wellesley.

Members of the teachers union have also been observed at public meetings carrying blank checks to signal their distaste for any measurements to accompany additional spending.

The 3,500 member companies of Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) who depend upon the public schools to prepare the workforce of the future support education reform that contains specific and measurable performance objectives. Anyone who owns or manages a business tracks return on investment and the investment we make in our public schools and students should be no different. 

The stakes in the debate are enormous, beginning with an estimated price tag in the neighborhood of $1 billion. The governor and the Massachusetts Legislature deserve credit for proceeding cautiously on education reform.

AIM members who wish to be updated about the education reform debate may contact Katie Holahan, Vice President of Government Affairs. 

Topics: Education Reform, Education, Workforce Training

Meet 2019 Gould Award Winner Snapchef

Posted by Christopher Geehern on May 23, 2019 9:47:09 AM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts last week presented the 2019 John Gould Education and Workforce Training Award to Snapchef, a Dorchester-based company founded 17 years ago by husband and wife Todd and Daniella Snopkowski that provides free culinary training to thousands of people who often subsequently find jobs through the company’s staffing operation. Here is the Snapchef story.

Topics: AIM Annual Meeting, Workforce Training, Gould Education and Workforce Training

AIM to Present Gould Education, Training Award to Snapchef

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Apr 16, 2019 8:00:00 AM

A Massachusetts company that has become the largest culinary training and staffing organization in New England will receive the 2019 John Gould Education and Workforce Development Award, AIM announced today.

SnapchefSnapchef, a Dorchester-based company founded 17 years ago by husband and wife Todd and Daniella Snopkowski, provides free culinary training to thousands of people who often subsequently find jobs through the company’s staffing operation. The company places students in entry level positions at blue-chip clients that include the region’s most prominent universities, hospitals, five-star hotels, food service corporations, caterers and corporate cafeterias.

The Snopkowskis have also established deep connections with community groups, churches and culinary schools to address the issue of culinary job readiness training and job creation.

“Snapchef is a wonderful example of the employer community rolling up its sleeves to solve the ongoing shortage of qualified workers in Massachusetts,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

“AIM is pleased to honor a company that not only employs more than 1,000 people throughout Massachusetts but also understands the broader significance of work and economic opportunity.”

Snapchef maintains training kitchens in Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Providence, R.I., where students get to take home the food they make while training and ride to job sites in Snapchef’s fleet of more than 50 vans.

The cornerstones of the Snapchef educational program are a 14-unit Fast-Track Culinary Training Program, ServeSafe classes and a 12-week Chef Apprenticeship Program that includes 240 hours of classroom instruction and 2,000 hours of supervised, on-the-job training.

“We help people find a career, not simply a job for one day,” said Snopkowski, who developed the Snapchef model after growing frustrated with culinary placement services while serving as a chef at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and for Goldman Sachs in New York.

“And, being a staffing company, we don’t only train, we also match folks looking for work in the industry with jobs that are available. If they don’t have the skills to do a job, we actually train them, whether it be dishwashing, cooking, cheffing, you name it. We cover those bases and give them a foothold in the industry,” he told BusinessWest magazine in Springfield.

The company has earned a multitude of honors for its work. CEO Todd Snopkowski received the 2015 US Small Business Association Small Business Person of the Year award for Massachusetts, as well as the 2016 Citizens Bank Good Citizens Award. Daniella Snopkowski, who serves as CFO, has been named among the Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40 business leaders.

Snapchef – the name is a variation on Snopkowski’s family nickname of “Snap” or “Snapper” - provides workers to clients ranging from individual restaurants and caterers to Foxwoods Resort Casino and Gillette Stadium, as well as large food-service corporations like Aramark, Sodexo, and the Compass Group.

And Todd and Daniella Snopkowski believe the company is just getting started. Snapchef is developing proprietary software for its clients and eventually plans to franchise Snapchef outside of New England.

The Gould Award was established in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers, and institutions to the quality of public education and to the advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the Commonwealth.

In 2000, the award was named after the late 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 in Massachusetts.

Past recipients of the Gould Award include the late Jack Rennie, Chairman and Founder of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education; Middlesex Community College; Gordon Lankton, President and CEO (retired), NYPRO Inc.; William Edgerly, Chairman Emeritus, State Street Corporation; Northeastern University; The Davis Family Foundation; Intel Massachusetts; EMC Corporation; IBM; David Driscoll Commissioner (Retired) Massachusetts Department of Education; State Street Corporation and Year UP Boston; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership; Brockton High School; the Manufacturing Advancement Center – MACWIC Program; Christo Rey Boston High School; CVS and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission; Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries and the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership.

Topics: Education, Workforce Training, Gould Education and Workforce Training

Video Blog | Gearing Up to Address the Skills Crisis

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jan 28, 2019 8:00:00 AM

A key element to addressing the persistent shortage of skilled workers in Massachusetts will be encouraging collaboration among employers, schools, community colleges, universities and training providers to establish a consistent and logical path from learning to employment.

What will those collaborations look like?

They will probably look a lot like one developed last year by AIM member Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston and the Prime Motor Group of Westwood, which operates 70 auto dealerships throughout the US.

Prime had for many years hired graduates of Ben Franklin’s automotive technology program, but last year stepped up its involvement with Prime Scholars, a partnership that provides students both financial aid and the opportunity to get real-world training with one of the region’s largest auto groups.

Topics: Education, Workforce Training, Workforce Shortage

Many Job Openings, Few Job Seekers

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jan 25, 2019 11:41:10 AM

At a time when there are more job openings than job seekers in New England and throughout the United States, Massachusetts must summon all its creativity and innovation to solve the structural shortage of qualified workers, AIM President Rick Lord and a group of experts said today.

SOMB2019“There are 6.9 million job openings throughout the United States this morning. There are 6.2 million unemployed people throughout the United States looking for work. Closer to home, there are 51,000 more jobs available in the six New England states than people to fill them,” Lord told an audience of 300 employers during his final State of Massachusetts Business Address.

“The good news is that we live in a commonwealth known for creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems. A state that has produced everything from the game of basketball to the microwave oven to Facebook should certainly be a leader in ensuring that all its citizens share in the economic possibilities that lie ahead.”

Lord offered several recommendations to help Massachusetts employers find the people they need to fuel economic growth:

  • Overhauling the work-force development system to ensure that people of all ages are being taught the skills that employers demand.
  • Ensuring that the public schools provide the basic skills that allow students to compete for jobs that were not even envisioned 20 years ago.
  • Supporting and expanding vocational education.
  • Resolving the immigration issue that has restricted the availability of skilled foreign workers in Massachusetts and other education and technology driven economies.
  • Expanding opportunity to the full diversity of the Massachusetts population. Lord noted that the unemployment rate among people of color exceeds 6 percent in Massachusetts and among Latinos is 5.6 percent.
  • Encouraging collaboration among employers, schools, community colleges, universities and training providers to establish a consistent and logical path from learning to employment.

Lord highlighted several examples of such collaborations, including an initiative by Prime Motor Group to provide scholarships and employment opportunities to automotive technology students at the Benjamin Franklin School of Technology in Boston.

Robin LeClaire, President of Lampin Corporation in Uxbridge, said the 35-person manufacturing company is working on multiple fronts to attract and train people to replace a workforce heavily tilted toward 40 and 50-somethings. The company speaks frequently to middle- and high-school students to let them know that manufacturing offers a rewarding career path to young people who don’t wish to attend college or who cannot afford to do so in the traditional manner.

“They don’t know that there are jobs other than those that require going to college,” said LeClaire.

“We tell them that when they come to Lampin, we’ll pay for them to go to college.”

Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Work Force Development Rosalin Acosta said it is “astonishing” that the state economy added 185,000 people during 2018 amid a 3.4 percent unemployment rate. She warned, however, that the future work force – people 19 years of age or under – has virtually flattened.

“Where are we going to get all the people employers need, and how are we going to get the right people with the right skills,” Acosta said.

She told the audience that the Baker Administration is focusing its job-training resources on three key areas - manufacturing, health care and information technology.

University of Massachusetts Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said the commonwealth’s formidable lineup of colleges and universities are using internships and other experiential learning to ensure that students have the ability to meet the evolving needs of employers.

“Employers now look for employees who are more job ready that when we went to college,” Subbaswamy said.

Topics: Skills Gap, AIM Executive Forum, Workforce Training

Employer Training Drives Growth in Educational Technology

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Sep 26, 2018 1:30:00 PM

The educational technology sector in Massachusetts, which already employs some 25,000 people, continues to grow in large part because of burgeoning interest by employers in providing training to employees, according to a new report from an industry accelerator.

StateofWorkforceThe State of Work Force Edtech, published by LearnLaunch in Boston, reports that investors are pouring tens of millions of dollars into Massachusetts educational technology companies such as CareAcademy and Authess. But while the industry grew initially by developing software and services for colleges and universities, the action is now around worker training.

“We found that close to $3 billion has been invested in last three years in whole set of new players providing either functional training or 21st century skills or marketplace skills,” says Eileen Rudden, co-founder of LearnLaunch.

“It addresses the whole system of how companies are finding and growing employees in a tight labor market in Massachusetts.”

The report, funded by the Lumina Foundation, finds that workforce educational technology companies in the United States attracted $2.9 billion in funding between 2015 and this year, with half of that money going into companies developing solutions to train workers, rather than to educational institutions. The potential market is immense in a world where experts believe that technology disruption may displace as many as 800 million jobs worldwide.

The global market for corporate learning alone is expected to reach $31 billion by 2020.

“To keep pace with innovation, modern corporations are expanding their learning and development programs. On-demand training is essential to corporations operating in dynamic and compliance-driven markets. In addition, businesses are increasing the use of online functional training programs as middle-skill talent becomes scarcer,” the report concludes.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which provides management and human-resources education for hundreds of employers, is part of the trend. The association has for many years offered online training courses in collaboration with MindEdge Inc. of Waltham.

“The persistent challenge of finding skilled employees is placing a premium on training as a means of improving productivity and reacting to market opportunities,” says Gary MacDonald, Executive Vice President of AIM HR Solutions.

The LearnLaunch Accelerator provides educational technology startup companies with access to capital, mentors, knowledge and work space. The organization has nurtured more than 45 companies.

Rudden said educational technology startups are still selling to colleges and universities, where 25 percent of graduate degrees are earned online, as well as to so-called “informal” education settings such as coding boot camps. Some companies such as New York-based Trilogy Education Services are combining those markets by establishing partnerships to deliver training boot camps within universities.

Investment in the Massachusetts Edtech sector has been steady:

  • Panorama Education raised a $16 million B round led by Emerson Collective
  • Ellevation Education raised a $10 million B round led by Reach Capital
  • Better Lesson raised a $10 million B round led by Owl Ventures
  • Tinkergarten - $5.4 million Series A led by Owl Ventures
  • DataCamp - $4 million Seed 4 funding led by Arthur Ventures
  • College Vine raised $3.1 million a round from Morningside Technology Ventures
  • AdmitHub raised $2.9 million led by Reach Capital
  • Pragya Systems - $1.67 million of Series 1 and 2 Seed funding from undisclosed investors
  • KinderLab Robotics - $1 million raised of Seed funding from Brain Robotics Capital
  • Chalk Talk - $2 million from undisclosed investors.
  • CareAcademy - $1.93 million Seed led by Rethink Education, Lumina Foundation and Techstars

Topics: Massachusetts employers, Technology, Workforce Training

Survey: Employers Use Wages, Partnerships to Address Skills Crisis

Posted by Katie Holahan on Apr 5, 2017 1:30:00 PM

Massachusetts employers believe that the best way to address the shortage of skilled workers is to show those workers the money, according to a new AIM survey.

ManufacturingWorkerSmall.jpgAsked what strategies their companies have adopted to address the persistent skills gap that affects many industries, 47 percent of employers responded that they have increased wages and benefits. Forty percent say they use temporary-to-permanent employment agencies to find workers, and another 39 percent indicate that they have established a relationship with their local high school or vocational school.

The results were based on responses from 100 employers representing a cross-section of the state economy. Employers could check multiple answers.

Indeed, many employers seem to be using multiple strategies to find the employees they need. Approximately 25 percent of companies say they have established a relationship with a community college, recruited employees from outside the area, used state Workforce Training Fund Grants to improve the skills of existing workers, and established on-the job training.

“We do whatever works, but it is a growing, long-term problem,” said one employer who participated in the survey.

AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century long-term economic plan for Massachusetts cites hiring and retaining skilled workers at the predominant challenge to the economic prosperity of Massachusetts. The Blueprint calls for Massachusetts to create a flexible and responsive statewide work-force development system that provides residents the opportunity to learn the skills that employers in each region demand.

Katie Holahan, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM, finds it encouraging that a significant share of employers is forging ties with vocational schools, community colleges and other educational institutions.

“These collaborations allow employers to provide schools and colleges with a clear idea of the skills that are in demand and for the schools to teach those skills to students. It creates a talent pipeline that represents the only long-term solution to the shortage of skilled employees,” Holahan said.

AIM has also supported efforts by the Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative (MACWIC) to develop with vocational schools a competency-based curriculum for precision machining that allows students to meet prescribed industry standards.

The emphasis on raising wages and benefits appears at odds with other recent surveys showing that tight labor markets have yet to exert significant upward pressure on average wages.

Massachusetts employers responding to the 2017 AIM HR Practices Survey projected smaller average wage increases in 2017 than in 2016. Wage and salary increase budgets for this year were projected at 2.75 percent, down from 2.,9 percent in 2016 and lower than the predicted 3.0 percent budget increases predicted nationwide. 

If you are interested in keeping up with work force development area, please email Katie Holahan at

Topics: Education, Workforce Training

AIM Establishes Next Century Scholarship at UMass Boston

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


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

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 (  ) or Lori Bourgoin ( for more details.


Topics: Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund, Training, Workforce Training

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