Franklin Hampshire REB Among Regional Employment Boards Awarded Grants for Training


TURNERS FALLS, MA – Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito visited Franklin County Technical School on Tuesday, October 17 to announce the awarding of $1.3 million to eight workforce training organizations to provide advanced manufacturing training to unemployed and underemployed individuals through the Advanced Manufacturing Training Program.


Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board received an $84,150 grant that will be used to expand a free 12-week training program called the Middle Skills Manufacturing Initiative, better known as Middle Skills Academy, to be held in the spring at Franklin County Technical School.


For the past four years, the Middle Skills Academy has held fall training programs in Franklin County Tech’s state-of-the-art Machine Technology shop, and are taught by the school’s faculty.


“This grant guarantees our continued pipeline of adult learners to gain necessary experience and skills to become employed in precision manufacturing,” said FCTS Superintendent Richard J. Martin of the grant award.


Patricia Crosby, executive director of the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board, said her agency is currently recruiting students for the spring semester.


“We’ll have up to 14 students starting in February or March,” she said.


Crosby added that the program recently graduated its 100th student and there is 88 percent job placement of students that complete the program.


The grants were awarded by the Executive Office of Housing and Urban Development, on behalf of the Governor’s Workforce Skills Cabinet. FCTS was also recently awarded a $495,000 Skills Capital Grant to modernize the Welding and Metal Fabrication program.


The training grants will focus on outreach to veterans, demographic groups that experience higher rates of unemployment, and groups historically underrepresented in the manufacturing sector.


“Our administration’s Workforce Skills Cabinet has been diligent in efforts to close the skills gap between residents and the workforce needs of Massachusetts’ employers,” Polito said. “”Today’s announcement continues to build on our investments in technology, equipment and education for high school students and adult learners from Boston to Pittsfield.”


Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta said training programs like the Middle Schools Manufacturing Initiative leverage the partnership between  Franklin County Technical School, Greenfield Community College, and local businesses.


“These grants will allow underrepresented groups to access good paying jobs in the Commonwealth’s growing advanced manufacturing sector,” she said. “We’re thrilled these resources will help reinforce the regional manufacturing talent development strategies indentified by our Workforce Skills Cabinet planning teams. We are aligning our policies and grants to insure positive outcomes. It’s right here where the rubber meets the road.”


Rob Savage, president of Hassay Savage Co., a Turners Falls-based manufacturer of precision cutting tools, said his company supports the Machine Technology program and will continue to help fund it. He said manufacturing employees are in high demand and can make an above-average wage right out of high school or an adult training program.


“We’re growing between 8.5 percent and 9 percent annually,” Savage said of his company. “Manufacturing might pay $20,000 more a year. We see people being pad between $21-$28 an hour.”


Montague Town Administrator Steven Ellis said the town is “blessed” to have Franklin County Technical School in the community. He credited the partnership between the state, educational institutions and the business community for the success of the program.


“Thank you for making things like this happen in our community,” Ellis said.


Besides the Franklin Hampshire REB, other grant awards are: $207,900 to the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County; $138,600 to the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board; $212,850 for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, with Central and North Central Regional Employment Boards; $272,250 for the Metro North Regional Employment Board; $89,100 for the Center for Manufacturing Technology; $103,950 for the Essex County Community Organization and $227,700 for the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board.

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