“The purpose of this paper is to provide a case study of Massachusetts—in particular, how the state views advanced manufacturing as a leverage point in its statewide economic plan and an extension of its larger goals to support innovation and infrastructure. As a result, the state is currently in the process of aligning its economic agenda with its education and workforce development initiatives to promote advanced manufacturing as an industry and career path that creates opportunities to enter the middle class. It is worth noting that the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education is taking a strategic sectoral approach to enhancing educational opportunities and meeting employer needs and expectations; while this case study focuses on advanced manufacturing, the state has also partnered with industry to create additional workforce development plans in information technology, allied health, and nursing.
To this end, this case study is designed to provide educators and state leaders with concrete examples of how secondary and postsecondary institutions work collaboratively with the business community to implement curriculum reforms that promote efficiency and continuity across the school-to-career pipeline” (p.1).(Abstractor: Author)
Major Findings & Recommendations
“The history of manufacturing in Massachusetts, coupled with its robust system of career and technical education at the secondary and postsecondary levels provide an interesting contrast to the state’s reputation for high-tech innovation and its concentration of 4-year institutions. Yet, over the last four years, the governor’s advanced manufacturing initiatives demonstrate the necessity of these seemingly disparate economic and educational spheres to intersect in order to support the next era of advanced manufacturing in Massachusetts. Moving forward, however, the state will have to create policies to maintain these points of intersection. In addition to recruiting young people and moving students through certification pathways, both the state and schools will need to target outreach to win the support of parents so they also understand the range of career opportunities within the manufacturing industry. Additionally, the state must ensure a sufficient supply of manufacturing instructors in high schools. Currently, an experienced technician’s salary is much higher than a high school instructor’s, and thus policies and initiatives will likely be developed to incentivize qualified professionals to earn teaching credentials. Similarly, schools will need to continue to offer professional development and externship opportunities to instructors so teaching staff stay up to date on current practices and technology in the industry. Above all, state officials emphasize that employer involvement will remain at the core of all future initiatives. One way to increase widespread support from the business community is to give employers options for different levels of commitment, ranging from curriculum development, to formal partnerships, to internships and one-time equipment grants. However, as state agencies and educational institutions implement these strategies to meet employers’ immediate needs, state officials acknowledge that Massachusetts is still in the process of mapping out the long-term future of advanced manufacturing. This planning will likely entail ways to restructure the entire secondary education system from the outside in, to make sure what happens in the classroom is sustainable in the labor market” (p.13). (Abstractor: Author)