Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and three cabinet secretaries appeared to like what they saw Thursday afternoon when they checked up on a $218,671 Workforce Skills Capital Grant given to Haverhill High School last February.
The lieutenant governor was accompanied by Education Secretary James Peyser, Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker II and Housing and Workforce Development Secretary Jay Ash at a ceremony dedicating three laboratories at the high school. Polito oversaw the cutting of a ribbon at the newly installed healthcare lab.
“And I promise you, when you graduate from this great school or whatever you choose to do from here, you will have an abundance of opportunity in this commonwealth,” Polito said during a ceremony minutes later in the school library. She explained Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration early on identified a gap between what skills employers need and what schools are teaching.
“I met a manufacturer that said, ‘you know what? I’m turning work away because I don’t have enough workers, I don’t have enough people that can do the job that I need done,” she explained. Over the next decade, she said, the state will create 100,000 new jobs that need skills students are learning today.
Besides the healthcare lab, the grant paid for a dedicated computer lab, an upper level robotics class and web development program. Haverhill High School Principal Beth Kitsos served as master of ceremonies. Peyser explained the objective.
“Create opportunities for thousands of young people—all of you included—that have rewarding and fulfilling careers that make it possible for you to build lives and families right here in the Commonwealth.”
Walker told students schools need to train them to take tomorrow’s jobs.
“The pipeline that is needed is all of you and that’s what the businesses want us to address, which is why, in fact, we created the workforce skills capital grant.”
Ash joked the last time he was at Haverhill High School was in 1978 when, as a Chelsea Red Devils basketball player, he competed against the Hillies. He said Massachusetts ranks number one in providing kindergarten through grade 12 education.
“All the innovation that happens, starting in kindergarten and working all the way up to high school and then into colleges, ends up intro translating into you all going out and creating things that none of us have ever heard of, but are going to be impactful.”
Others participating were Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini; Superintendent James F. Scully; state Rep. Linda Dean Campbell; City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua; School Committee President Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello; School Committeeman Shaun P. Toohey; Tatum Mortimer representing state Rep. Brian S. Dempsey; and Dennis Marcelo, representing state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives.