Gov. Patrick talks funding higher education at STCC - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Gov. Patrick talks funding higher education at STCC

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

In his new budget, Gov. Deval Patrick wants to quadruple the amount of financial aid available for certain higher education programs.

Springfield Technical Community College is right in the middle of it, but more funding means higher taxes

"Nobody ever wants to pay more taxes, but we are not going to get the things the same people say they want unless we pay for them," said Patrick, who toured the STCC technology lab on Friday.

What the governor wants paid is the MASSGrant program. Currently, the financial aid supplied through MASSGrant makes college more affordable for students.

At STCC, it allows a student like Esteban Ortiz to take part in the school's mechanical engineering and technology program.

"A lot of jobs within this field are needed to be filled by qualified people," Ortiz stated.

And, the STCC program is turning out quality graduates. Local businesses told CBS 3 that they know what they are getting with the school's job-seekers.

"Even when an entry level position gets open, you want to look for people from this program," said Edward Leyden, President of Ben Franklin Design and Manufacturing in Agawam. "They have the base skills to get started right away. The learning curve is very short and they become productive much quicker."

With an aging job industry, the skilled workers are needed now more than ever.

"The average machinist is 53 years old, but he should be in his 30s," said Leyden. "So we think it is going to get worse before it gets better, as the graying workforce starts to retire."

Patrick anticipates needing 100,000 new skilled workers over the next decade, but he said it will take public support to help make that happen.

"If we are going to accelerate our job growth, that is going to require investment," said Patrick.  "That means investing in transportation and other infrastructure, and it means investing in ourselves."

The jobs that were discussed today are considered "high quality" jobs.

One employer in attendance said that a person could make $50,000 to $70,000 a year after five years in the industry.

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