Watching Long-Term Trends, Michitson Proposes Haverhill Focus on Job Training, College Alternatives

Councilor John A. Michitson. (Courtesy photograph.)

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

With an eye on declining interest in four-year college and the growing number of English-language learners in Haverhill Public Schools, City Councilor John A. Michitson is set to suggest fine-tuning to the city’s economic development strategy at tonight’s meeting.

Noting the need for a catchier phrase, Michitson calls his proposal “Equitable Alignment of Learning, Training and Business needs.” Pointing in particular to the high demand for qualified workers, he argues the city’s abundance of educational opportunities can make it a more attractive business destination than similar communities.

Though residents already have access to Career Technical Education programs at the local high school, Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School and Northern Essex Community College, Michitson explained how the training model can fall short for people from “underserved communities.” He shared research from a federal agency revealing some students face financial, transportation and language barriers. With a poor reputation among teachers, staffing can be a problem, too.

His presentation included a Gallup poll showing 46% of families want options for their children other than four-year college.

As WHAV reported, the share of English learners in the district grew from 9.5% in 2018 to 13% today. At last week’s School Committee meeting, Assistant Superintendent Michael J. Pfifferling also pointed out enrollment in general outpaced state projections. Though still not quite at pre-pandemic levels, he said there were 114 more students this school year than last.

“Obviously that’s not the case,” he said of state estimates. “Haverhill continues to grow. We continue to bring new families into Haverhill, young families who want to have their students go into Haverhill Public Schools.”

As a gateway city, Haverhill is often the “landing spot” for people from other cities, states and even countries, he told WHAV.

The Haverhill City Council meets Tuesday night at 7, remotely and in-person at the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers, room 202, Haverhill City Hall, 4 Summer St. As a public service, 97.9 WHAV plans to carry the meeting live.

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