Massachusetts just created a new way to bulk up its advanced manufacturing workforce. A new program, called the Advanced Manufacturing Certificate Program, offered to adults who want to learn new skills in advanced manufacturing, was announced on Dec. 14.
The program, which has a flexible timetable, also offers 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,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “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.”
Classes start in September and expected enrollment in the first year is between 200 to 300 students.
“Across the Commonwealth there are many adults who are interested in careers in advanced manufacturing, and employers who are looking to hire them, but many people do not have the opportunity for training that is affordable,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said. “This new program will make jobs in advanced manufacturing a reality for hundreds of residents this year by opening the door to financial aid.
Students will earn a certificate in advanced manufacturing once they complete three different modules, each consisting of 300 hours of class time. The program is designed to be flexible so adult learners, who are most likely working full-time jobs and raising families, can complete the three-course modules at their own pace. The goal is to provide students with a “stackable” credential and an affordable path to continue their education, while also helping to meet the growing workforce needs of the manufacturing industry in Massachusetts.
Adults who complete the manufacturing training at one of ten participating vocational high schools will then 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. A planning team made up of vocational school, public and private higher education officials and workforce and industry partners, will work on curriculum, align credential agreements, and develop internships and hiring opportunities.
The administration also worked with Northeastern University to help develop the program. Northeastern recently introduced a new bachelor’s degree in advanced manufacturing in partnership with General Electric. To create new pathways into advanced manufacturing, the same program will also be available for public enrollment at Springfield Tech starting in January 2018. While the first year of the program will be focused on advanced manufacturing, state and local education officials plan to eventually expand the strategy into other fields, such as HVAC, auto technicians, and electrical professions.