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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: Manufacturing, Workforce Training, Technology

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

Employers See Disconnect Between Schools, Economy

Posted by Andre Mayer on Mar 24, 2014 12:23:00 PM

Twenty years of school reform have made Massachusetts a leader in public education, yet 69 percent of the state's employers report difficulty hiring employees with the skills demanded by the modern workplace, a newly-released survey finds.

EducationOnly 20 percent of business leaders gave the K-12 education system a grade of A or B for job market preparation. 

The survey was part of a broader study conducted by MassINC Polling Group for the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE), with support from AIM and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable. The survey included CEO interviews and focus groups with senior executives and HR administrators. Many AIM member employers participated in the study.

The majority of employers surveyed said the public schools need significant change – 52 percent called for moderate change and 32 percent for major change, while only 10 percent chose minor or no change. The priorities for business in school reform include effectiveness of teachers (63 percent), partnerships between companies and higher education (55 percent), availability of technology in the schools (52 percent), and access for all students to computer science (49 percent).

The need for more partnerships to give students hands-on experience and awareness of career opportunities is a recurring theme that gave the study its title: "Let's get together."

The employer study was released by MBAE in tandem with another report, The New Opportunity to Lead: A Vision for Education in Massachusetts in the Next 20 Years, [full report; executive summary] prepared by, a partnership of international education experts. The New Opportunity concludes that districts, schools and instruction must be transformed if students are to compete successfully in the global economy and if Massachusetts is to remain a hub of innovation. 

 The report calls for a new approach to education reform, one that moves away from state mandates and compliance to one that drives authority and accountability down to the schools and creates conditions in which schools continuously advance their own performance.

MBAE, AIM's longtime partner in education reform, plans to launch a campaign to build support for meaningful changes outlined in the report.

Richard C. Lord, president and CEO of AIM, endorsed the findings and urged employers to become engaged in the campaign to improve educational outcomes.

“High quality public schools are the bedrock of our knowledge-based economy. The job of sustaining Massachusetts’ global leadership in innovation belongs to everyone, and that will require a thoughtful, long-range plan to maintain our competitive advantages, including our education system.”

Topics: Massachusetts economy, Education, Education Reform, Workforce Training

State Encourages Young People to Consider Manufacturing Careers

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Oct 18, 2012 9:40:00 AM

Massachusetts has launched a statewide effort to encourage young people to consider careers in advanced manufacturing.

ManufacturingAMP it up!, developed as part of the Patrick administration’s Advanced Manufacturing Agenda, seeks to address a persistent shortage of qualified workers in key manufacturing industries. A recent state report card on manufacturing reported that upwards of 100,000 manufacturing jobs will need to be filled during the next several years.

Officials say AMP it up!, is designed to change the perception of manufacturing in Massachusetts and to present advanced manufacturing as an attractive career alternative. The campaign with reach out to parents, teachers and counselors to clear up misconceptions about the manufacturing with the ultimate goal of bolstering the prospective employee base for these quality jobs.

Manufacturing companies across the state are invited to submit ideas for content on the AMP it up! Web site produced by MassDevelopment.  Employers may suggest ideas by contacting Brenda Doherty at 800-445-8030.

Topics: Manufacturing, Workforce Training, Business Center

Reorganizing Community Colleges Holds Key to Massachusetts Economy

Posted by Rick Lord on Jan 24, 2012 2:34:00 PM

The principal new initiative in Governor Deval Patrick’s State of the Commonwealth address yesterday was a call to reorganize and reorient the community college system with a centralized administrative structure and an emphasis on workforce development. AIM applauds the governor for this focus on institutions that must play a central part in meeting the employment challenge before us today. 

Community CollegeThere are 240,000 unemployed people in Massachusetts, of whom 100,000 have been out of work for a year or more. This situation is disastrous for households and individuals, who face immediate crisis and perhaps permanently narrowed opportunities.

It is also a serious threat to our state’s most important economic asset – its highly skilled workforce.  Many who once possessed world-class skills are seeing those skills erode through disuse or (more likely) because employers have retooled and improved processes since they last worked.

Young people are unable to get that first good job that introduces them to the modern workplace and builds the practical skills for a long career.  Employers, AIM surveys show, are hiring slowly and carefully, bringing on only those who can be productive from day one.

To be blunt: Everyone without a job in Massachusetts today is likely to need more education, more training, directly relevant to employment opportunities, before they find one.

As a statewide organization, AIM has long been frustrated by the unevenness of the community college system. Each of the 15 colleges (some with multiple campuses) has strengths, but we cannot tell our members that they can turn to their own local community college for any particular program or service.  Though we value responsiveness to local needs and conditions, we are confident that the colleges can continue to respond locally within a more uniform system that will enhance their effectiveness as the first recourse for those seeking to improve their career prospects, and for employers seeking well-prepared employees.

The governor plans to move his initiative through the Fiscal Year 2013 state budget process. This is appropriate – whatever administrative structure is in place, whatever mission statement is in print, it is the flow of dollars and the incentives attached to them that will drive change in the system. The Legislature, which created local control a generation ago, and which has tended to favor institutional line-item budgeting, must recognize the need for a new approach.

Topics: Deval Patrick, Education, Issues, Workforce Training

House, Senate Approve Unemployment Insurance Rate Freeze

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Jan 18, 2012 6:01:00 PM

The Massachusetts Legislature overwhelmingly approved a supplemental budget last week that would freeze Unemployment Insurance tax rates for 2012 and head off an automatic 31 percent tax increase for employers.

Unemployment InsuranceThe $130.7 million measure also eliminates a sunset provision that would have ended the popular Workforce Training Fund Program on December 31 and require state officials to post online the full cost-benefit analysis of new regulations.

The Senate passed its version of the bill 35-0 on Friday, while the House of Representatives passed its own bill by a 154-to-1 margin on Wednesday. Because of minor differences between the House and Senate bills, AIM will continue to work with both chambers to ensure that the final legislation that is sent to the Governor includes all the measures that employers support.

“Employers commend the Legislature for acting quickly to freeze Unemployment Insurance rates at the current Schedule E, a move that will avoid an automatic jump in UI costs from $715 per employee to $935 per employee,” said John Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

“We urge Governor Patrick to sign it. We also hope that 2012 will be the year that policymakers make meaningful structural reform to the UI system.”

AIM maintains that the Unemployment Insurance increase is unnecessary since the fund used to pay jobless benefits in Massachusetts posted a balance of nearly $100 million at the beginning of the year. AIM projects that the surplus will grow to between $300 million and $400 million even if rates are frozen.

The UI rate increase was effective at the beginning of the year, but the Legislature still has time to approve a freeze because employers don’t have to start paying the tax until the end of the first quarter.

Three key state senators wrote a letter to Senate President Therese Murray January 5 urging the branch to freeze the rates at their current level. The letter - signed by Sen. Barry Finegold (D-Andover), Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) and Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) - argued that freezing unemployment insurance rates would ensure economic stability for small business owners and create a climate for job growth as businesses recover from the recession.

AIM is also pleased that Legislators are looking to lift the sunset provision on the commonwealth’s flagship program for improving the skills of Massachusetts residents. The Workforce Training Fund Program has provided $193.2 million in grants since its inception to some 2,500 Massachusetts employers to train 277,351 workers. 

Click on these links to review the House (H.3878) or the Senate (S.2108) versions of the FY12 Supplemental Budget.

Topics: Massachusetts Unemployment Insurance, State Budget, Unemployment insurance, Issues, Workforce Training

Worker Training System Must Help Employers Find Skilled People

Posted by Andre Mayer on Oct 28, 2011 8:35:00 AM

“I can’t find the skilled people I need to make my business grow.”

Workforce TrainingIt’s one of the most common observations we hear at AIM from Massachusetts employers, even during a slow economy. Now, the person in charge of workforce training for Massachusetts is asking for your ideas to solve the problem.

On Thursday, November 3, Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne F. Goldstein will conduct a morning-long 21st Century Workforce Development System “visioning” session in Burlington. The event will focus on the needs of employers, to “provide an opportunity for company representatives to share their perspectives on the most effective ways to recruit, train, and retain a 21st century workforce.”

Where to begin the search for solutions? Start with what works best – the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Program (WTFP). The initiative has been a success for employers and workers alike. Its flexibility has allowed it to respond to changing needs in the economy, and to evolve structurally to broaden participation (for example by accommodating small employers) and to meet pressing concerns.

The success of the WFTP owes much to the fact that it is funded by employers, and requires a direct employer match for each grant. Substantial employer skin in the game justifies the flexibility and responsiveness to specific needs required in a diverse, fast-changing economy.

Many other programs, by contrast, are narrowly categorical in terms of eligibility, and involve complex application processes. Now that a true WTFP trust fund is in place, ensuring stable funding, the program will be even more effective.

The WFTP falls under the broader heading of “middle skills,” defined as education and training beyond the high school level but short of a baccalaureate college degree. AIM’s 6,000 members employ one in five of the state’s private-sector workers, a large proportion of them in the middle-skills category.

We hear from employers constantly that development of these skills must be a priority, and that our workforce development system must be re-tuned to meet current needs and opportunities. The system must also become more readily navigable both for individuals seeking skills and for employers seeking to hire. The middle-skills agenda currently being advanced by the Skills2Compete-Massachusetts coalition is a vital contribution – especially as our state, a leader in elementary, secondary and higher education, has too often ignored this critical middle ground.

The “Great Recession” has created an immediate crisis of workplace skills. Youth employment has been devastated, leaving many young people unable to gain a basic understanding of the world of work through low-level jobs. Older people have experienced long-term unemployment that has eroded the currency of their skills. Even experienced workers may be left behind when industry patterns shift or employers retool.

Meanwhile, the recession and subsequent sluggish recovery are limiting government’s ability to address the workplace skills crisis. Federal funding streams have historically not only supported much workforce development activity, but also shaped the institutional structure through which programs are delivered. The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 created the regional Workforce Investment Boards as they now exist. That law, which expired in 2003 but has been extended annually, is now enmeshed in the broader deadlock over federal spending. Reauthorization at this point is in considerable doubt.

We face both an immediate and long-term need to change the way we approach worker training. Without improved training now, employers will not find the employees they will soon require, working lives will be blighted and Massachusetts risks losing a key competitive advantage - a highly-skilled workforce. Here, for the time being, we must use as effectively as possible the resources and structures we have, notably the Workforce Training Fund.

On the other hand, there can be no doubt that the time has come to recast our state’s workforce development system to respond to the emerging needs and resource constraints of the 21st century. Important work is being done on aspects of a new system – reconsideration of the role of the community colleges, for example – but we must end up with a coherent system that can be understood and used by jobseekers and employers (especially small employers) alike.

AIM strongly believes that workforce development must be addressed in the context of a comprehensive economic development strategy for the commonwealth. We have long advocated such planning as a key component of our Agenda for the Common Wealth flagship advocacy program, and we are very pleased that the challenge has been taken up by Governor Patrick’s Economic Development Council. As a statutory participant in that effort, we are committed to placing the highest priority on workforce development programs that effectively meet the needs of our state’s employers and fulfill the potential of our state’s residents.

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Topics: Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund, Issues, Workforce Training

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