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Central Massachusetts Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund Grant Comes to a Close

By: Leslie Parady, Project Manager, MassMEP

In July 2007 the Central Mass. Institute for Workforce Development was created with the assistance of a Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF) grant, administered by the Commonwealth Corporation.

The grant application says, “The Central Mass. Institute for Workforce Development is designed to reduce barriers and to connect the dots between potential and incumbent employees, employers, and technical education and training providers, using the resources of Worcester Technical High School. The program implements successful models and builds on existing relationships and strengths to deliver basic workforce education and manufacturing training. Its expected impact will be to improve the economic status of individuals, families, and employers in Central Massachusetts, and to create the Institute to replicate the program to other industries and regions in the Commonwealth.”

From the beginning, the Institute aimed to connect Central Mass. companies with the classes and training that they needed to remain competitive. The project focused the education and skills necessary for older workers, low-wage workers, low-income individuals, disabled citizens, vulnerable youth, incumbent workers, and the unemployed to move forward along a career path leading to economic self-sufficiency. With an original goal of assisting 400 incumbent workers the grant far exceeded expectations and provided training to over 600 individuals at 100 area companies. Training programs included Lean methodologies and problem solving and technical (basic manufacturing skills, autoCAD) skills. Training was provided by collaboration between Worcester Technical High School, MassMEP and other area providers

In addition to incumbent workers, MassMEP provided vocational training to 95 displaced workers. Training in Critical Occupational REadiness (CORE) skills consisted of 80 hours of foundational manufacturing skills and CNC machine operation. Work readiness and problem solving skills were also emphasized. Despite the economic collapse, 72% of graduates entered employment. The last class operated under the grant has only recently completed training and is available to manufacturers with openings. Pre-employment training such as CORE provides a “tune up” for dislocated workers who may have held their previous positions for many years. By upgrading technical skills CORE participants are better able to compete in today’s especially competitive job market.

Six months after the first class, an independent third party marketing firm began surveying participating companies using the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) impact survey used by the Manufacturing Extension Partnership network. The survey asks companies to quantify the impact that training had on their organizations.

WCTF IMPACT ON MASSACHUSETTS’ ECONOMY
The state’s $500,000 investment in the Central Mass. Institute for Workforce Development resulted in the:

* Creation of 144 jobs
* Retention of 638 jobs

Manufacturing has been the engine that drives the American economy for more than a hundred years. And it will continue to, well into the 21st century. America’s future growth, security and leadership in the global economy will depend on the strength and viability of our manufacturing base. That’s why it’s so important to reverse the current ebb of manufacturing skills and jobs.

The Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund is a workforce development initiative that supports programs in critical industry sectors in Massachusetts.  This state-funded initiative is administered by Commonwealth Corporation on behalf of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.


The WCTF was a key component of the Workforce Solutions Act/Economic Stimulus Bill of 2006 and was established with two objectives:
  • To improve the competitive stature of Massachusetts businesses by improving the skills of current and future workers, and
  • To improve access to well-paying jobs and long-term career success for all residents of Massachusetts, especially those who experience structural, social, and educational barriers to employment success.

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