BOSTON — With businesses warning of worker shortages and thousands of prospective students stuck on waitlists, lawmakers and advocates are urging the Legislature to inject billions of dollars into Massachusetts vocational and technical schools and to reform their admissions policies.
A steady stream of speakers Tuesday at an Education Committee hearing called for sweeping state action to bulk up the state’s capacity to educate adolescents and adults in high-demand trades and to address inequities that leave some students unable to access life-altering training programs.
An omnibus bill that drew significant support combines $3 billion in bonding 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 simply isn’t enough capacity in our system to accommodate 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 ones, the most newly renovated ones, were not built to meet the capacity for their regions.”