Nashoba Lands Training Program

December 17, 2017 GMT

A Sun staff report

EASTON -- Nashoba Valley Technical High School in Westford is one of 10 technical high schools in Massachusetts -- and the only local school -- targeted for a new program through which Bay State residents interested in careers in advanced manufacturing can take classes and be eligible for state and federal financial aid to pay for their training.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced the initiative, called the Advanced Manufacturing Education Program, on Thursday at Southeastern Vocational Technical High School.

Adults who complete the manufacturing training at one of the 10 participating vocational-technical high schools will be eligible for college credit when enrolling at partnering colleges and universities.

The certificate they earn during evening classes at the high schools will be worth a specific number of college credits that can be applied toward an associates’ degree.

Nashoba Tech Superintendent Denise Pigeon noted that the school in 2016 received a Workforce Skills Capital grant from the state in the amount of $500,000, which enabled the district to purchase state-of-the-art equipment designed to train students to become CNC technicians certified by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, making them highly marketable in the advanced-manufacturing field.

She said that grant puts Nashoba Tech in a good position to train adults and prepare them for the workforce.

“We plan to open a post-secondary program designed to target the graduating senior who does not have a solid career focus,” Pigeon said. “Students from our sending districts can begin our program in the spring of their senior year with introductory courses, and can continue in the fall with the goal of earning their NIMS credentials and college credits by the following spring.

“Our hope,” she added, “is to send these students directly into the workforce and into high-demand, high-wage jobs, thus building the workforce pipeline and strengthening the economic fabric of the region.”

The Baker administration developed the Advanced Manufacturing Certificate Program as a way to give adults who want to learn new skills in advanced manufacturing an opportunity to enroll in a program with a flexible timetable that would be eligible for financial aid. Adult students will be eligible for federal Pell grants, state MassGrants and other scholarships.

“The program provides another opportunity for students to pursue an affordable education in advanced manufacturing to learn a skill set and find a good-paying job in this growing industry,” Baker said. “This unique program leverages state and federal resources and offers much-needed flexibility to give people better career options and a path toward a college degree.”

Nashoba Tech’s district includes Ayer, Chelmsford, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend and Westford.

The other high schools selected to participate in the program are Assabet Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Marlboro; Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical High School in Taunton; Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River; Essex Agricultural and Technical High School in Danvers; Greater Lawrence Technical High School in Andover; Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School in New Bedford; Minuteman Regional Technical Vocational High School in Lexington; Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School in Easton; and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in Haverhill.