There are not enough skilled workers to meet the demands of Massachusetts’ Blackstone Valley region’s business community. Traditionally, community colleges and technical schools have answered this call by investing in programs that provide students with the technically-rich skill sets that employers are seeking to lead them into the future. While this is proving to be a step in the right direction it is also a strategy that isn’t without its challenges, prompting the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce to step in and help.
Due to the high demand in Massachusetts for training and up-skilling programs, many students who apply for these programs get turned away or placed on months or years-long waiting lists. That’s where the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce acted upon the opportunity to help ease this pressure by investing in an Advanced Manufacturing Education Hub.
Building the Blackstone Valley Education Hub
The objective of the BV Ed Hub, modeled after popular fab labs, is multi-pronged. Building on the main goal of providing a technical learning space while students wait for entry into a technical college program, the BV Ed Hub will expand regional technical education and make high-quality career programs accessible to people across the state of Massachusetts. The Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce Advisory Committee along with the Central Workforce Investment Board wanted to bring the future into focus for the local economy in the development of the Ed Hub, choosing a technically-focused program centralized around Advanced Manufacturing as the start-up vocation to build the first program around.
The Ed Hub worked closely with Mark Lyons from AET Labs to secure funding from a state technical training grant initiative, as well as generous support from multiple local secondary and post-secondary institutions and businesses, to purchase and install equipment and make the necessary space renovations to support this effort. The facility includes a state-of-the art Stratasys Continuous Build 3D printer that enables the students in the program to 3D print from a remote location on a scalable and cloud-enabled system.
The Ribbon Cutting and Opening Ceremony
As the opening of the Ed Hub at the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce quickly approaches, the buzz around its innovative purpose is quickly gaining the attention of local government leaders. Governor Charlie Baker, whose ambitious Skills Capital Grant Program helped to fund the Ed Hub, and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito will be in attendance to perform a ribbon cutting ceremony and introduction to the public. This ceremony is slated to begin on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at 3:30 pm EST and will be available via Facebook Live for those who wish to watch the opening but are unable to attend in person.