Calling his service on Governor Charlie Baker’s task force an “eye opening” look at the employment challenges facing underserved populations, Blackstone Valley Tech Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick now hopes to see legislative action on the group’s recommendations to assist the chronically unemployed.
Fitzpatrick was appointed to the study group by Governor Baker, who signed an Executive Order last March creating the Governor’s Task Force on Economic Opportunity for Populations Facing Chronically High Rates of Unemployment. Fitzpatrick said the group comprised of state officials, business leaders, community organizers, economists, and educators worked cohesively under the leadership of its chair, Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald L. Walker, II, and received crucial assistance from Workforce Development Undersecretary Ronald G. Marlow.
“The incredible honor of working alongside numerous key state policymakers provided many firsthand observations of Governor Baker’s impressive collaborative leadership,” Fitzpatrick remarked.
The task force’s recently released report calls for the creation of a Massachusetts-based public workforce system that will enhance the existing federal system and administer grants aimed at increasing job training and employment opportunities. The Baker-Polito Administration’s proposed budget includes $5 million for implementation of the task force’s plan, which Fitzpatrick expects to have far-reaching effects.
“As the task force learned through research and public hearings, many individuals experiencing chronic unemployment are eager to work and are actively seeking employment, yet they run into barriers such as a lack of workforce skills or fair access to opportunity,” Fitzpatrick said. “If implemented, the task force recommendations will assist in removing those barriers by investing in organizations that provide demand-driven training and foster productive relationships with business and industry.”
As an expert in his field, Fitzpatrick advised the task force on career technical education’s potential role in providing industry-relevant training to the chronically unemployed. When the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development released the task force’s final report, Fitzpatrick was pleased to see recommendations calling for the expansion of training programs offered through the Commonwealth’s vocational technical systems.
“The return on the proposed investment will be maximized by the required documentation of employment needs, placement potential, opportunities within job markets, and employment outcomes,” Fitzpatrick said.
The task force’s proposal entitled “Report and Recommendations to Improve Employment Outcomes Among Populations Facing Chronically High Rates of Unemployment” can be found online by visiting [www.mass.gov/lwd].
Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School serves the towns of Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton and Uxbridge. Located in the heart of the Blackstone Valley, Blackstone Valley Tech creates a positive learning community that prepares students for personal and professional success in an internationally competitive society through a fusion of rigorous vocational, technical, and academic skills. The school’s website is www.valleytech.k12.ma.us.