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Ten Community Colleges Receive Rapid Response Grants to Target "Skills Gap"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

(From Left) Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland, Massachusetts Senator Karen Spilka, Web Industries CEO Don Romine, and MassBay President John O'Donnell personify the unification of industry, higher education, and government through the state's Rapid Response Incentive Grant program. The program has enabled Web Industries to provide its employees with six key training models being taught by experienced MassBay faculty members.

HOLLISTON (May 28, 2013) – Ten Massachusetts community colleges have been awarded the state’s first-ever “Rapid Response” grants to respond to education and workforce training needs within 90 days of a company’s request, the Patrick-Murray Administration announced today. The campus recipients of the grants—Berkshire, Bunker Hill, Cape Cod, Greenfield, MassBay, Middlesex, Mount Wachusett, North Shore, Northern Essex and Roxbury Community Colleges—were announced today during a tour of Web Industries in Holliston, where MassBay Community College has just launched English as a Second Language (ESL) and computer literacy training for the company’s multi-lingual employees.

"A stronger community college system is good for students, employers and the whole Commonwealth," said Governor Deval Patrick. "These additional resources will further accelerate this transformation, and help get people the training they need to advance in the workplace.”

The grant program reflects the goals of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s community college agenda, specifically the commitment to create new opportunities for locally developed, regionally specific jobs and skills training. The campus recipients of Rapid Response grants will work with health care, manufacturing, engineering and clean energy companies, all of whom require training and educational advancement opportunities that reflect specific industry requirements or business challenges. In some cases, local employers project that training opportunities through the Rapid Response program will allow them to grow the number of jobs available in their companies. Many of the grants are also designed to help community colleges meet the scheduling needs of working adults by providing classes at their place of employment.

“These grants offer a lifeline to employees who are eager for training but who may lack the means to advance their education,” said Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland. “For our community colleges and local business and industry, the grants offer a chance to work together in common cause, building those ‘middle skills’ so essential to meaningful employment opportunities and industry growth.”

At Web Industries, an advanced manufacturing facility providing equipment to some of the world’s leading medical diagnostics companies, fourteen employees have signed up for the first phase of on-site classroom training delivered by MassBay educators, who developed a curriculum in partnership with Web Industries.

“When Web Industries expressed their training and education needs to us, MassBay quickly developed training modules for their needs,” said John O’Donnell, President of MassBay Community College. “Within 90 days the program was up and running, and our instructors were onsite providing the training and education they needed for their workforce.”

Employees will be paid for their participation in ESL classes, and encouraged to pursue further on-site coursework in computer basics, math, team-building, computer software applications, and statistical process control (SPC). The “Web U” classes are intended to “create a culture of learning support and the opportunity for success” at Web Industries, according to the company. None of the students currently enrolled in the MassBay classes have ever attended college. Data show that by 2018, 70% of Massachusetts jobs will require at least some post-secondary education (source: Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce).

“One of our challenges is the skills gap,” said Ronald P. Giard, general manager of theWeb Industries facility in Holliston. “The changing demands of our customers are requiring us to educate our own employees. By working with MassBay we are able to do it here during work hours.”

Students began attending classes Tuesdays and Thursdays on May 14. Giard and other Web Industries executives hope the program will inspire their employees to pursue campus-based, credit-bearing coursework needed to earn college degrees.

Official Massachusetts Department of Education Grant Summary>>

MassBay awards associate degrees and certificates in over 70 academic programs in a wide range of career-driven subjects ranging from accounting and automotive technology to forensic DNA science and early childhood education. The College’s facilities in Wellesley Hills, Framingham and Ashland house day, evening and weekend classes that meet the needs of degree-seeking students and career minded life-long learners. Many courses are also offered online. Since its founding in 1961, MassBay has been accredited by several governing bodies and strives to meet the needs of the diverse local communities it serves. Registration is now underway for summer and fall semesters. More information about MassBay, the upcoming academic semesters, and the 2013 Commencement Exercises can be found at, or by calling (781) 239-3000.