Mass voc-tech schools leave kids waiting

Nicole Brazier

DIGHTON – Sarah DeArruda will be finishing school in just a few months, but the Bristol County Agricultural High School senior says she’s not worried about finding a job.

“It’s definitely beneficial to know that if you come to this school you do learn a lot of real world situations and a lot of skills that are going to help you,” she said.

The horticultural major feels ready to tackle her field… but others are concerned.

A recent report shows that some 10,000 jobs a year will be open for the next 10 years in the state’s manufacturing sector.

Jobs that require technical skills… but local vocational–technical schools are full.

“About 400 kids a year apply to the school for about 120 seats that are available,” said Bristol Aggie Superintendent Stephen Dempsey.

In total nearly 4500 students are on waiting lists in just half of Massachusetts vocational high schools, that’s according to a recent study by the Northeastern University School of Law.

The success rate for students who leave Bristol Aggie and enter either full time employment or student life at a 4 year college is nearly 100% after graduation from the voc–tech school.

So, it’s looking to expand to offer more students the opportunity to succeed.

“We are really bursting at the seams… what I would love to do is expand the school by at least 100 students over a period of time,” said Dempsey.

As for Sarah…. big plans to go to college for business and sustainable agriculture.

“I definitely want to make a mark and bring more urban agriculture into the cities and try to help with poverty stricken families and have more local gardens and roof terraces full of plants and vegetables,” she said.

The organization that ordered the study, the Massachusetts Communities Action Network, is taking their findings to the local government, working with candidates for governor to devise an education plan that will prepare more students for the workforce.

(c) WLNE-TV 2014