The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs issued the following news release:
The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $960,000 in grants for hands-on learning and academic training programs for six Massachusetts high schools in an effort to prepare students to pursue clean energy and STEM higher education majors and careers. The grants, awarded by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), totaled $160,000 each and were provided to Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School, Malden High School, Northeastern University/John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, UMass Amherst/High School of Science and Technology, Norfolk County Agricultural High School, and Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board/New Bedford High School.
"Our administration is committed to providing new pathways for Massachusetts' students to explore opportunities in STEM-related fields," said Governor Charlie Baker. "Encouraging students to pursue studying clean energy and STEM subjects will strengthen our future workforce and further improve our nation-leading innovation economy."
"Massachusetts is a national leader in education and clean energy," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. "By leveraging these strengths we can better prepare our students to take advantage of the job opportunities in the growing clean energy industry."
Through MassCEC's Learn and Earn Program, schools will provide approximately 160 students with education and training that includes career exploration, work readiness training, and paid work-based learning. The clean energy employment program provides dual enrollment classes that award credit for high school academic work as well as higher education credit.
"A highly skilled workforce is essential to sustaining an innovation and technology-based economy," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. "Meeting the growing demands of the Massachusetts clean energy sector will be reliant upon our ability to provide students with opportunities to expand their education in STEM fields."
"Despite large numbers of jobs available in STEM fields, just 1 in 6 American high school seniors are interested in studying STEM in college. This creates additional strain for states like Massachusetts that want to make sure that STEM employers have highly skilled employees, and more residents have opportunities for careers in this growing sector," said Education Secretary James Peyser. "Given this reality, these grants are critically important to give students opportunities to learn about STEM careers firsthand."
Since 2015, the more than 173 students who have participated in the program received academic year training with curriculum focused on clean energy as well as summer jobs at either the participant's high school or a clean energy business, including design and construction of clean energy systems for low-income housing.
"Massachusetts is home to one of the world's most vibrant clean tech sectors," said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. "This program not only creates new educational opportunities for these students, but gives them a base of skills that will fuel the future growth of the clean energy economy in the Commonwealth."
According to MassCEC's 2016 Clean Energy Industry Report, employers would benefit from educational development in clean energy and STEM topics, as nearly three quarter of employers reported hiring difficulty over the last year, with 47 percent of employers citing insufficient qualified candidates as the most significant barrier to hiring. The funding builds on the Baker-Polito's initiative to increase opportunities and participation for students in STEM studies. One of the greatest challenges facing Massachusetts' rapidly growing innovation economy is the gap between available jobs in STEM fields and qualified workers to perform them.
"The clean energy sector in Massachusetts continues to thrive and will need future generations of workers with the skills and training to hit the ground running once they finish their education. These grants will help provide the pipeline of highly skilled workers to fill good paying cleaner energy jobs in the Commonwealth," said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). "Investments in education and STEM programs will keep Massachusetts a leader in renewable energy to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
"I'm thrilled that UMass is one of the recipients of this grant program," said State Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose (D-Amherst). "This will help in the important work they do educating students in our area about science and technology."
"Our state government is intensely focused on leading our nation in the development, innovation, and commercialization of renewable energy," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). "Continuing that leadership will depend largely on having a new generation of engaged, skilled, and prepared people, and these grants will invest in supporting them."
"Clean energy doesn't just help power our communities, but it is also a growing source of jobs," said State Senator Jason Lewis (D-Malden). "We need to be proactive in tailoring our schools' curricula to prepare our students for these and other 21st century jobs, especially in the STEM fields. I'm very pleased that the Commonwealth can partner with and support Malden High School and other schools in realizing this important effort through the Learn and Earn program."
"These funds will bolster Malden Public Schools' efforts to prepare our students for the 21st century economy," said State Representative Steve Ultrino (D-Malden). "As an educator and former School Committee member, I know that this grant will be put to great use, and that our students will benefit from the exposure to different learning environments and the Learn and Earn model. This program propels students toward success in high school, higher education, and career while helping Massachusetts become a leader in the green economy."
"I am very excited that Malden students will experience the educational opportunities and training provided by this funding," said State Representative Paul J. Donato (D-Malden).
"The emerging clean energy economy requires us to double down on our investment in STEM education," said State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport). "The MassCEC grant program will allow schools like Diman to continue to prepare a skilled and modern workforce that embraces innovation and new industries."
"The clean energy industry is growing rapidly throughout the Commonwealth, especially here in New Bedford," said State Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral (D-New Bedford). "With the help of this program, New Bedford High School students will gain the necessary skills to become contributing members of today's renewable energy movement."
"STEM fields are one of the fastest growing job categories in our nation, and the demand is always increasing," said State Representative Paul Schmid (D-New Bedford). "As the South Coast continues to invest in renewable, clean-energy technologies, I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration for providing my communities of New Bedford and Fall River with the tools to have a create a stronger, local workforce."
"Massachusetts manufacturers are truly national leaders in clean energy innovation, which has played a major role in the revitalization of our state economy," said State Representative Christopher Markey (D-Dartmouth). "However, the largest obstacle to continued growth in the promising clean energy industry has not been demand, which is expanding exponentially every year, but the sufficient supply of a skilled and educated workforce to meet that demand. This timely funding will directly address the educational and training needs of tomorrow's clean energy workforce - a prudent investment in our overall economy."
"This is great news for the students of Norfolk Aggie and for the growth of our job market in Massachusetts," said State Representative Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham). "With the support of the Learn and Earn Program, our clean energy economy will be strengthened and our future will be brighter. I applaud Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito, as well as, MassCEC for making these critical investments in our hands-on learning and training programs."
The Renewable Energy Trust, created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1998, provides the funding for this program. A systems benefit charge paid by customers of investor owned utilities and five municipal electric departments that have opted into the program funds the trust.