Uganda: government to formulate new law for vocational schools

The Ministry of Education and Sports has revealed that it is in the process of formulating a law to strengthen the operations of vocational training centers across the country.

The ministry, in partnership with the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) and the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Sports, said they have embarked on consultations on how to proceed with the policy.

Ministry officials say the law aims to effectively replace the 2008 Law on Vocational and Technical Education and Training (BTVET) which they say is obsolete and needs to be amended.

Speaking to the media after a stakeholder meeting in Entebbe on Wednesday, Mr. Denis Mugimba, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, said they had recently conducted a benchmarking study in Kenya on improving performance. technical and vocational education in Uganda.

“We have just started the process and have not yet decided to completely cancel or make changes to the BTVET law. This will be done by the officials of the ministry in collaboration with the vocational training centers,” he said. -he declares.

He added that the Justice Department is tasked with drafting a law to determine whether it should be amended or repealed based on the issues that will be raised by officials.

“While we need a law in place, there are other issues that need to be addressed first. These include the creation of TVET [Technical and Vocational Education and Training] Council as a regulatory body for TVET across the country, ”he said.

DIT Acting Director Patrick Byakatonda said he wanted the new law to specify funding for TVET operations as practical work requires a lot of money, including facilitating assessors and purchasing ‘equipment for practical work.

“In the old law, we get funds through the central government, which is not fair because it delays our programs and sometimes we get less money than we ask for, but we have a lot of work to do, ”said Byakatonda.

Mr Byakatonda said the new law should take into account industrial assessment and certification, where all assessors should be certified by the DIT to ensure there are professionals in the field.

The chairman of the committee, Mr. John Twesigye Ntamuhira, said that before starting the process of amending or repealing the current law, it is necessary to hold several consultations as this is a national problem.

“We cannot make a decision now because some of our colleagues say there is no need to repeal the law, but amendments can be made to take into account other issues that have been left out “, did he declare.

Agago District MP Ms Beatrice Akello Okori said that with the law already in place, there was no need to draft a new law.

“We can improve what we already have. We can change the existing laws that govern technical and vocational education in the country,” she said.

CONTEXT

In January 2019, the Cabinet approved the TVET policy focused on the establishment of an employer-led TVET system and a TVET qualifications framework consistent with the regional framework.

The Cabinet decision, according to Mr. Denis Mugimba, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, authorized the ministry to draft the principles or pillars on which the new law will emerge from politics.


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Ministry of Education adds 139 technical and vocational schools to free SHS program

General information for Thursday, September 9, 2021

Source: gbcghanaonline.com

139 TVET has been added

The Ministry of Education included 139 technical and vocational schools in the free high school program, in addition to the 47 already enrolled. This is to broaden the scope of technical and vocational training and make it more accessible to students to register.

The national coordinator of the computerized school selection system, Mark Sasu Mensah, revealed this during a pilot training at Effiduase in the Eastern region on the computerized school selection and placement system, CSSPS for parents. , teachers and students of the Municipality of New Juaben North.

He said 10 districts have been selected in the country for the pilot training to help solve some of the challenges related to high school selection.

New Juaben North City Education Director Beverly Dansoa Bartels was pleased that the program enlightened participants on how to select their SHS and advised parents to work with their children’s teachers to learn about their abilities before they go. select schools. Some parents and students who attended the training shared their views with GBC News, praising the opportunity for them.

A total of 35 schools in the municipality participated in the program. WAEC statistics show that 539,202 students from 18,000 and 13 schools have registered to write this year’s BECE in November.


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Eritrea: Empowering young people through vocational schools

The Sawa Vocational Training Center (SCVT) has been training students in various technical fields for 14 years. Initially, the center trained for one year certified students in the fields of electricity, drawing, surveying and building. The program has been reviewed and improved over the past eight years. The number of areas of specialization has increased and the one-year certificate program has been transformed into a two-year certificate program aimed at providing students with practical experience in their areas of specialization.

Considering the importance of the training programs in improving the nation’s human resource base and the relevance of the training programs to the country’s development plans, the government has invested more than USD 16 million for the purchase of modern training equipment.

SCVT students were encouraged to work on innovative works and their ingenuity could be seen at the exhibitions held each year as part of their senior technical work presentations in their respective fields.

Some students feel that they should have received a diploma instead of a certificate because they studied for two years. But Mr. Negasi Kifle, director of Building Construction Technology 01, is of the opinion that the courses offered at the center strictly follow the standards set for practical and scientific courses. He said that most of the time a science degree course takes three years while the courses at SCVT cover 60 credit hours which should be covered in four semesters over a two-year period and therefore l The award of the certificate is justified.

Mr. Negasi added that for many students, certificate level courses have been a short road to what would have been achieved in 20 years. The students were very eager to take the courses and they were always ready to do more in their future careers. There would be an incentive for those who are passionate to continue their education at a degree level as they have already covered the necessary credit hours.

The Covid-19 outbreak could have been a setback for the teaching and learning process across the country, as schools were closed for a year. But, Mr. Negasi said, the fact that SCVT is a boarding school and there was no contact with other parts of the country that were partially closed, SCVT training was carried out without any interruptions, a rare benefit for students to complete. their studies within the allotted time.

The SCVT provides financial and material support to students in need, and the Ministry of Education provides teaching materials when needed.

To give students extensive access to reading materials, the center opened a digital library. The well-trained teachers also worked hard to ensure that the students had a good knowledge of the subject.

According to the teachers and the administration of the SCVT, the overall competence of the pupils of the center is remarkable. All students meet established standards and most have performed well while some demonstrate exceptional excellence. In addition, the participation of students in the SCVT increases every year. They are increasingly competitive with their male counterparts and excel in certain areas. Despite their small number compared to the number of male students, female students were resolute in their studies, which is evident in the number of women graduating with distinction. At the beginning of the 12th, for example, of the nine students who obtained full marks, five are women.

Elim Ghirmai and Saron Mihreteab, graduates in the 12th year of the school year, obtained four grades in four semesters. Saron studied electronics and graduated with great distinction. She said her father is a technician and what she learned from him inspired her to study electronics. Elim, for his part, said that her father is an engineer and that she decided to study surveying due to her father’s influence. The two exceptional students said the center allowed them to become versatile and created many opportunities for social interactions which led to strong relationships.

After graduation, students were assigned to develop infrastructure such as dam and road construction, electricity, agriculture, maintenance of electronics, refrigerators and air conditioners, plumbing, auto mechanics, computer maintenance and networking, drawing and surveying. Although SCVT graduates have left their fingerprints on development projects across the country, some have not worked in their area of ​​specialization. Mr Negasi said the huge expense of equipping students with the necessary knowledge would only be productive when graduates were assigned to areas of their competence and the center worked hard for a better outcome.

The training center has made remarkable progress and what students love the most about the center are the comprehensive and special courses that have transformed their lives. The number of workshops at the training center has increased over the years, from five to 23, to accommodate more trainees and provide trainees with spacious space for practice.

Students representative of the six regions of the country visit the center each year to see the huge investments made to expand the workshops and enable students to acquire technical skills in various fields. More and more students have expressed an interest in joining the center and enjoying its life-changing experience. Mr. Negasi said the centre’s doors are always open for interested students.


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Helsinki to vaccinate pupils directly in secondary and vocational schools

Helsinki, August 31 (IANS): Students in high schools and vocational institutions in the Finnish capital must be directly vaccinated against Covid-19 from September 1 to 10, the city of Helsinki announced on Monday.

Vaccinations will be given to each student of these institutions, regardless of their municipality of residence, and no appointment will be required, he said in a statement.

If a student has already received his / her first dose of the vaccine, he / she will be able to receive his / her second at school, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Timo Lukkarinen, medical director of the city of Helsinki, said the best way to protect students was to generalize the vaccination.

“When vaccines are given in educational institutions, it is easy and quick,” he said in the statement.

According to Lukkarinen, 74% of 16-19 year olds in Helsinki have received their first dose of the vaccine, and the city hopes that rate will increase thanks to better vaccine availability.

However, students can choose to be vaccinated, and if they cannot decide, the procedure requires the consent of a guardian.

According to the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL), on Monday afternoon, Finland recorded a total of 126,565 cases of coronavirus, of which 472 were new. The death toll in the country has now reached 1,024, with five deaths reported the day before.

So far, 71.8% of the country’s population have already received their first dose of the vaccine, and 49.7%, the second, the THL said.


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The struggle to know who the vocational schools are for

You can ask almost anyone and they’ll tell you it’s true: the skilled trades are short on manpower.

A March report from the Washington state group PeopleReady Skilled Trades found that while apprenticeships and available jobs in industries like plumbing, roofing, carpentry and construction were increasing, sometimes by up to 50% in one month, the positions were not filled for a month or more.

In the Mass., This shortage is played out in part in the technical and vocational high schools of the State, which face increased demand despite the shortages reported. According to a presentation made in February at a special meeting of the Council for Primary and Secondary Education, some 18,560 completed applications were submitted to enroll in ninth grade in 58 schools and vocational programs in the last academic year. . Of these applications, 12,454 received an offer of admission, with 9,951 students enrolled as of October 1.

Based on these figures, only around 56% of applicants with full applications were offered admission, with slightly less than that ultimately signed up. In other words, according to the presentation at the BESE meeting, there were 1.75 applications for every place available in a professional program.

Numbers like these have fueled questions about who gets admitted to the state’s highly sought-after professional programs, the rules for applying, and what these students will do after enrollment is complete. In response primarily to the first, BESE on June 22 approved changes to its regulations regarding professional admission procedures, relaxing admission criteria and requiring schools to actively work to ensure that their admission policies include strategies for attracting and enrolling a student body, which has an academic and demographic profile of the cities from which vocational schools draw students. In short, the new rules lower the requirements for academic excellence.

The changes have divided stakeholders in the state’s vocational and technical education programming, some of whom say the changes did not go far enough – arguing for a comprehensive lottery system not prioritizing to academic superiority or social standing, and others who say that students who are academically strong and interested in furthering their professional education in college should not be barred from admission to do so.

Workforce Development

“It’s frustrating and I think we’ve finally gotten to the point where something needs to be done,” said Jeannie Hebert, President and CEO of the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce and the force behind the Blackstone Valley Educational Hub based. in Northbridge. “They became elite schools, and that wasn’t what they were meant to be.

Jeannie Hebert, President and CEO, Blackstone Valley Chamber

Hebert said vocational schools fell from their original intent. These programs were designed to teach students who were not academically bright but who were interested in learning the trades, including students with learning disabilities and other special needs.

Indeed, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities attend vocational schools at slightly higher rates than statewide, according to the February report. However, in 2020, students of color were attending vocational schools at a rate of 39% compared to 43% of schools in the state. English language learners attended vocational schools at a rate of 6%, compared to 10% in the Commonwealth as a whole. The same BESE presentation indicated that students of color and English language learners apply to vocational schools at lower rates than their counterparts, with fewer acceptances and enrollments.

Collegiate rates

While vocational and technical schools have in some cases become institutions of attraction, their occasional penchant for academic excellence has made them vulnerable to criticism, their priorities are not in the right place.

The tension creates a double-edged sword: No one wants students in vocational schools to fail on their own, but some argue that great academic results miss the point.

At Blackstone Valley Regional Technical High School, the only vocational school in central Massachusetts to send students to college at a rate above state figures, the student body is graduating at rates of up to 100% , with the lowest recent graduation rate recorded at 98.4%, according to the school’s 2020 report card, maintained by DESE. Statewide in the same year, graduation rates were 88%.

At the same time, 78.7% of its 2019 graduates have enrolled in post-secondary education programs, compared to 72% of students statewide, with 73.8% of students attending four-year college, compared to 55.7% of students in Massachusetts.

Worcester Technical High School also enjoys a higher graduation rate than high schools in the state, with 98.4% of four-year study in 2019. However, Worcester Tech students do not attend high school programs. post-secondary education at higher rates than graduate students statewide. In 2019, 64.2% of graduates continued their education, with only 41.5% in a four-year school.

Timothy Murray, president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and former lieutenant governor, does not think it is the job of professional regulatory bodies to challenge students who choose to pursue their professional training and attend the university, rather than entering the job market directly.

Timothy Murray, President and CEO, Worcester Regional Chamber

“We can do both,” Murray said. “We can walk and chew gum. “

More people are going to college in all fields, he said, and instituting a lottery would still leave applicants rejected from vocational training programs.

In his view, the most important step in addressing waiting lists and boosting the trades workforce is to expand vocational training programs, both by building new schools and adding vocational and technical training opportunities in schools. The latter is particularly useful, he said, when comprehensive high schools add programs that complement, rather than compete with, their local vocational school.

“Any child or family who wants to access a Chapter 74 program should have it because it’s the way of the future,” Murray said.

Although stakeholders vary depending on whether they think it is appropriate for vocational schools to graduate large numbers of university students, most people agree that vocational programs should be extended, in general, that whether through building new schools, public-private partnerships, hybrid programs like Blackstone Valley Ed Hub, which provides training to more population groups than just high school students, or adding to comprehensive schools pre-existing.

“There is obviously a challenge here, with the provision of high-level education, what we know to be vocational education. We have seen the success of vocational schools, ”said Jeffrey Turgeon, executive director of the MassHire Central Region Workforce Board. “So the challenge is how to extend that? “

Ultimately, the goal should be to provide the opportunity to have vocational training for those who want it, which could then reduce waiting lists at local schools, Turgeon said.


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Kentucky: $ 75 million to renovate vocational schools

FRANKFORT, KY (STL.News) The Kentucky School Facilities Construction Commission (SFCC) is now accepting applications for $ 75 million grants for the modernization of vocational schools – which is part of the government. Andy Beshear‘s Better Kentucky Plan, which helps create opportunities for families in all corners of the Commonwealth.

“Vocational schools play a crucial role in preparing our employees for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Governor Beshear said. “My administration will always put education first, and that includes making sure our school facilities have the structural upgrades and technology necessary to serve our students in the future.”

Governor Beshear, through a bipartisan deal with state lawmakers earlier this year, aims to create 14,500 new jobs and help the Commonwealth lead the post-COVID economy. With the passage of bills at the end of the 2021 legislative session, more than $ 750 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds will be used to boost the state’s economy by building new schools , by providing drinking water and expanding access to broadband. To learn more, visit Governor.ky.gov/betterky.

Eligible schools can request up to $ 10 million for renovations. Applications will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. EDT on Friday, August 13. The request has been sent to individual districts that qualify for this funding pool. Funding will be granted by SFCC on September 1.

Local Vocational Education Centers (LAVEC) which are district-managed vocational and technical education centers included in district installation plans are eligible to apply for funding to cover the cost of renovations, which include updating, enlargement, repair, replacement or reconstruction of a structure. Each district can only receive one grant.

Applicants will be scored on the following criteria:

  • Age of current vocational education institution;
  • Financial need;
  • Enrollment in job creation and training programs as a percentage of total district enrollments;
  • Unemployment rate by county in May 2021; and
  • Quality of planning and layout of district facilities.

Applications and supporting documents should be emailed to [email protected] by the August 13 deadline and mailed to 700 Louisville Road, Carriage House, Frankfort, KY, 40601. Incomplete applications will not be taken. considered for financing.


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Florida Senate Speaker Speaks About Red Tide, Reclaimed Water, and Vocational Schools at Ybor Meeting

Florida Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson was a guest at Friday’s Tampa Tiger Bay Club meeting in Ybor City.

He began by discussing the 2021 Florida Legislature Regular and Special Sessions.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s legislative session was marked by budget uncertainty. Florida lawmakers returned to Tallahassee in March facing at least one $ 2 billion budget shortfall driven by lower state taxes and lottery funds.

But in the end they spent a record budget, supported by billions of dollars in federal stimulus funds and rebounding state tax revenues.

“This year we ended the session on a balanced budget,” said Simpson. “Today we have over $ 10 billion in reserves. If we have a hurricane, we have money in the bank to pay for that disaster. “

He summarized other issues addressed by the legislature, including the restoration of the Everglades, the effects of rising sea levels, bonuses for first responders, and raising the minimum wage for state employees to 13 $ per hour.

But he said the biggest challenge Florida faces is population growth.

“The biggest challenge we have going forward is the amount of people moving here,” Simpson said. “We have between 1,000 and 1,500 people a day moving here for a number of reasons. “

In addition to advocating for the construction of more roads to accommodate the growing population, the Senate Speaker explained how this could affect the state’s water supply.

“Anywhere you have a dense population you need sewer lines, you have to capture that,” Simpson said. “Which leads to another problem of reclaimed water. Today in the state of Florida, between 700 and 800 million gallons of collected water will go to the tide. Every part of this water could be used for drinking water to reclaim wetlands for salt water intrusion, all of the above.

The legislature adopted a bill this will require local governments to have a plan for how they will start using reclaimed water.

After completing his summary, the “Tiger Cage” was opened. Members of the Tampa Tiger Bay Club were encouraged to ask thought-provoking and thoughtful questions.

A member asked about the sugar farms around Lake Okeechobee.

Runoff from farms pollutes the lake and this water is dumped on the east and west coasts, where it kills seagrass and is believed to feed toxic algae blooms from red tides.

But Simpson says most of those sugar producers don’t contribute to pollution.

“We have reduced the nutrient load to almost nil for farms that use best management practices,” he said. “When you think of farming, and everyone here has had a nice lunch, I hope. You should say “thank you” and leave it at that. “

A farmer himself, Simpson then asked how much money he received in contributions from “Big Agriculture” and “Big Sugar”.

“A lot,” he said. “If you are a farmer in the legislature, there are many other farmers who will support you. “

The Tiger Bay Club presents a coveted “Garfield” award to the club member who asks the most insightful question, according to a three-judge panel.

Award winner Michael Reeves, a Tampa-based building and plumbing contractor, asked what state officials are doing to support trade schools.

“A lot of people like me, African Americans, have a hard time becoming plumbers and roofers,” Reeves said. “A lot of African Americans don’t have the money to pursue college careers.”

“While we were talking about the economy in Florida, I know for a fact that when it comes to construction, it’s booming. As a business owner, what I feel is that you don’t have the right workforce or the right apprenticeship. What are you doing up there? “

Simpson responded by talking about the importance of strengthening Florida’s education system.

“If you want to break generational poverty in this state, you’re going to do it because you have the right K-12 system,” Simpson said.

“We have continuously followed the K-12 model to try to inject more professional opportunities. And again, as Tallahassee, we invest resources, but we don’t dictate how (districts use them). But we do fund professional work opportunities statewide.

Simpson has one more session as President of the Senate and is expected to run for the post of Agriculture Commissioner by a wide margin.


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After workforce change, lawmakers must provide more resources to vocational schools

BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts’ workforce has changed over time and the focus is now on the skilled trades.

The pandemic has shown us that the demand for carpentry, electrical and plumbing among other trades is higher than we thought. That’s why lawmakers want to remove some of the barriers students face when trying to enter a Voc technical high school.

To enter a Massachusetts trade school, students must have good grades, good attendance, and recommendations from their teachers. A new bill on Beacon Hill would remove some of these barriers by admitting students using a lottery system. This decision alone is one that advocates say will help low-income students get well-paying jobs right out of high school.

“Make sure students know that this is an option for them, that they can do it, and that they can have a job that earns $ 70, 80, 90 or even $ 100,000 or more per year, and you don’t don’t have a six-figure student loan. debt, ”Senator Eric Lesser told 22News.

The bill would also increase the number of programs offered by schools of technology so that students can train for jobs related to clean energy, such as installing solar panels and maintaining wind turbines.

The bill had its first hearing before the education committee on Tuesday, lawmakers in that committee told 22News they hoped to send it to the prosecution for a full vote in the coming weeks.


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Lawmaker urged to inject billions of dollars into vocational schools

BOSTON – As businesses warn of worker shortages and thousands of potential students stranded on waiting lists, lawmakers and lawyers urged the legislature this week to pump billions of dollars into Massachusetts vocational and technical schools and reform their admissions policies.

A steady stream of speakers called during an education committee hearing for radical state action to strengthen the state’s capacity to educate adolescents and adults in high-demand occupations and address the inequalities that prevent some students from accessing life-changing training programs.

An omnibus bill that has received significant support combines $ 3 billion in guarantees to renovate, expand and construct vocational and technical school buildings with a series of policy changes aimed at accelerating public investment in the field.

“There just isn’t enough capacity in our system to meet the demand for vocational technical education from students, parents and employers,” said Steve Sharek, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators. “We don’t have enough regional voc-techs, and the ones we have are often too small and too old. Even some of the newer, more recently renovated ones were not built to meet the capacity of their areas.

Representative Frank Moran, who co-tabled the House version of the bill, said the strengthened capital infrastructure would help achieve more equitable access to vocational education, especially for students of color.

“This funding will go a long way in ensuring that communities like Lawrence and other Gateway Cities are able to provide leading professional learning opportunities for a student who wishes to pursue a career in the trades,” said Moran. , himself a graduate of the Grand Lawrence. Technical school, told colleagues.

In addition to authorizing $ 3 billion in bonds through the Massachusetts School Building Authority for investment in voc technology, the sweeping bill would create a Vocational Technical Education Funding Commission for investigate long-term issues of how to pay for expanded skills-based training programs. in Massachusetts and would establish an office of technical vocational education within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

It would also allow the long-term rental of buildings so that more schools can offer hands-on training programs and would allow towns and villages to remove vocational school payments from their local tax levy cap, thus easing budget pressure. , according to a summary of the Alliance for Vocational Technical Education bill.

Elected officials continue to point to vocational and technical education as a path to stable, well-paying jobs for Massachusetts students and adults seeking a career change. However, demand far exceeds the space available in schools across the state, and the cost of increasing capacity is emerging as a major hurdle.

Several speakers have warned that inaction will slow the state’s recovery from the pandemic and the economic devastation it has caused.

Nina Hackel, who owns a kitchen and bathroom remodeling company called Dream Kitchens, told the committee that her business could be set to grow 30-40% from last year, but that she won’t be able to do it because “we don’t have enough artisans. . “

“It is a crying shame,” she said. “The trades are screaming. We need to stop selecting our children to enter business school on criteria that primarily help them in college. We must make our trade schools work on the creation of trades. We really need to make that available to the 8,000, maybe 10,000 kids who would like to come in. “

“Our economy is being ruined because we don’t have enough professional places to meet our needs,” Hackel added.

Education advocates have also pushed for the state to take action to update admissions policies at dozens of vocational and technical schools in Massachusetts, in some cases calling for a more aggressive response than regulations implemented by the Baker administration.

A bill by Senator John Cronin of Lunenburg would require all vocational schools to select incoming classes using a lottery, replacing the current system in which students can be admitted based on their grades, attendance, discipline, guidance counselor recommendations and sometimes interviews – all of which create disproportionate barriers for communities of color.

“We currently have a system of vocational schools that selectively enroll more privileged students, thereby contributing to the state’s large and persistent disparities in race, income, language and disability in student achievement and high school drop-out and drop-out rates, ”said Dan French, president of Citizens for Public Schools and member of the Vocational Education Justice Coalition.

A DESE analysis released in February found that Massachusetts had about 1.75 full student applications for vocational education for every available program seat. Students of color, those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, English language learners and students with disabilities “received fewer offers of admission” compared to their peers, according to the analysis.

Last month, the State Council for Primary and Secondary Education approved new regulations for the 2022-2023 school year, removing the requirement that grades, attendance, disciplinary records and recommendations of counselors should be used as technical and professional admission criteria.

The regulations authorized Commissioner Jeff Riley to intervene in the event of non-compliance. Riley said he plans to “be very energetic” and may choose to require schools to use a lottery system.

Speaking in favor of the Cronin bill, French said he believes lawmakers should go even further and impose a raffle of students to be admitted when nominations exceed available seats.

“The regulations give vocational schools the responsibility for interpreting this standard and still allow them to include grades, discipline, attendance, recommendations and interviews with certain restrictions,” he said.


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Lawmaker urged to inject billions of dollars into vocational schools

BOSTON – As businesses warn of worker shortages and thousands of potential students stranded on waiting lists, lawmakers and lawyers urged the legislature this week to pump billions of dollars into Massachusetts vocational and technical schools and reform their admissions policies.

A steady stream of speakers called during an education committee hearing for radical state action to strengthen the state’s capacity to educate adolescents and adults in high-demand occupations and address the inequalities that prevent some students from accessing life-changing training programs.

An omnibus bill that has received significant support combines $ 3 billion in guarantees to renovate, expand and construct vocational and technical school buildings with a series of policy changes aimed at accelerating public investment in the field.

“There just isn’t enough capacity in our system to meet the demand for vocational technical education from students, parents and employers,” said Steve Sharek, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators. “We don’t have enough regional voc-techs, and the ones we have are often too small and too old. Even some of the newer, more recently renovated ones were not built to meet the capacity of their regions.

Representative Frank Moran, who co-tabled the House version of the bill, said the strengthened capital infrastructure would help achieve more equitable access to vocational education, especially for students of color.

“This funding will go a long way in ensuring that communities like Lawrence and other Gateway Cities are able to provide leading professional learning opportunities for a student who wishes to pursue a career in the trades,” said Moran. , himself a graduate of the Grand Lawrence. Technical school, told colleagues.

In addition to authorizing $ 3 billion in bonds through the Massachusetts School Building Authority for investment in voc technology, the sweeping bill would create a Vocational Technical Education Funding Commission for investigate long-term issues of how to pay for expanded skills-based training programs. in Massachusetts and would establish an office of technical vocational education within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

It would also allow the long-term rental of buildings so that more schools can offer hands-on training programs and would allow towns and villages to remove vocational school payments from their local tax levy cap, thus easing budget pressure. , according to a summary of the Alliance for Vocational Technical Education bill.

Elected officials continue to point to vocational and technical education as a path to stable, well-paying jobs for Massachusetts students and adults seeking a career change. However, demand far exceeds the space available in state schools, and the cost of increasing capacity is emerging as a major obstacle.

Several speakers have warned that inaction will slow the state’s recovery from the pandemic and the economic devastation it has caused.

Nina Hackel, who owns a kitchen and bathroom remodeling company called Dream Kitchens, told the committee that her business could be set to grow 30-40% from last year, but that she won’t be able to do it because “we don’t have enough artisans. . “

“It is a crying shame,” she said. “The trades are screaming. We need to stop selecting our children to enter business school on criteria that primarily help them in college. We must make our trade schools work on the creation of trades. We really need to make that available to the 8,000, maybe 10,000 kids who would like to come in. “

“Our economy is being ruined because we don’t have enough professional places to meet our needs,” Hackel added.

Education advocates have also lobbied the state to take action to update admissions policies at dozens of vocational and technical schools in Massachusetts, in some cases calling for a more aggressive response than the regulations implemented by the Baker administration.

A bill from Senator John Cronin of Lunenburg would require all vocational schools to select incoming classes using a lottery, replacing the current system in which students can be admitted based on their grades, attendance, discipline, guidance from guidance counselors, and sometimes interviews – all of which create disproportionate barriers for communities of color.

“We currently have a system of vocational schools that selectively enroll more privileged students, thereby contributing to the state’s large and persistent disparities in race, income, language and disability in student achievement and high school drop-out and drop-out rates, ”said Dan French, president of Citizens for Public Schools and member of the Vocational Education Justice Coalition.

A DESE analysis released in February found that Massachusetts had about 1.75 full student applications for vocational education for every available program seat. Students of color, those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, English language learners and students with disabilities “received fewer offers of admission” compared to their peers, according to the analysis.

Last month, the State Council for Primary and Secondary Education approved new regulations for the 2022-2023 school year, removing the requirement that grades, attendance, disciplinary records and recommendations of counselors should be used as technical and professional admission criteria.

The regulations authorized Commissioner Jeff Riley to intervene in the event of non-compliance. Riley said he plans to “be very energetic” and may choose to require schools to use a lottery system.

Speaking in favor of the Cronin bill, French said he believes lawmakers should go even further and impose a raffle of students to be admitted when nominations exceed available seats.

“The regulations give vocational schools the responsibility for interpreting this standard and still allow them to include grades, discipline, attendance, recommendations and interviews with certain restrictions,” he said.


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