$2M grant targets jobs; Mfg. training in region eyed.


Byline: Lisa Eckelbecker

WORCESTER - The Central Massachusetts Regional Employment Board has obtained $2 million from the federal government for an initiative to train workers for manufacturing jobs.

The U.S. Department of Labor award was among $10 million handed out to five entities across the country to support employment efforts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, according to a news release from the Labor Department. The projects are aimed at preparing workers for fields such as aerospace, biotechnology and renewable energy.

The Central Massachusetts Regional Employment Board will use the money to train unemployed workers, and the effort will tap high schools, Worcester Technical High School and Workforce Central, the one-stop career center in Worcester. Training workers addresses the goal of attracting 21st-century jobs, said U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester.

"Part of what we need to do in Central Massachusetts, in Massachusetts, is attract new industries," he said. "We need to be able to show we have the work force that is ready to start work day one."

The initiative's backers say that 13 percent of Central Massachusetts workers are employed in high-wage manufacturing jobs, a force that could be vulnerable to layoffs as production technologies change. The region also faces a high unemployment rate among young workers ages 16 to 24, they say. New manufacturing jobs require workers to have at least an associate's degree plus longer, on-the-job training, they say.

The initiative will aim to enroll 80 people in training programs that grant certificates and 66 high school students in science-based...

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