BILLERICA, MA — The Baker-Polito administration has awarded Shawsheen Valley Regional Technical High School a Workforce Skills Capital grant in the amount of $382,830, the second award of its kind received by the District in the last two years. Grant money will be used to modernize equipment in the school’s Culinary Arts kitchen, bakery, restaurant and café; to create a wider-variety of food preparation and service experiences for students; to introduce “farm-to-table” curriculum and facilities as part of the Culinary program; and to build model hotel and conference facilities.
“We are grateful for this expression of confidence from the Governor and his Workforce Skills Cabinet,” said Shawsheen Tech Superintendent-Director Tim Broadrick. “Maintaining a cutting-edge vocational school facility is an expensive and daunting task. This kind of support helps us continue to provide the highest-quality service to high school and adult students.”
The school district applied for this grant in partnership with the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce, the Middlesex3 Coalition and the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. In addition to the improvements to Shawsheen Tech’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management programs, the four partners intend to build a workforce training program for adults that will help address a serious local workforce need.
With the new equipment, Shawsheen Tech students will have opportunities to participate in modes of service that have become more common in the modern food service industry, particularly café-style counter service, “grab-and-go” retail service, and the operation of a food truck. The “farm-to-table” curriculum will include new greenhouses at the school.
Joe Williams, the Culinary Arts Lead Teacher, who is both a graduate and a longtime teacher at Shawsheen Tech, said, “The restaurant business these days is more diverse than ever. Dining room service and banquet services are important, but more and more businesses are adopting other models. There is a greater focus on local sourcing of ingredients. This equipment will help us transform our facilities to reflect the current state of the restaurant world.”
The new equipment will also enable Shawsheen Tech, the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Middlesex3 Coalition to develop a new-employee training program to serve the needs of local businesses. This adult training program will be offered evenings and on weekends, expanding the use of the grant-supported equipment.
According to Rick Parker, president of the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce, “There are hundreds of unfilled jobs in restaurants and hotels in the Burlington, Bedford, and Billerica area. We have actually had new restaurants open and then struggle because they couldn’t find enough qualified staff. Shawsheen Tech has a history to producing well-prepared students who are ready to enter the local economy. We are confident that they will be able to build a high-quality program to train and re-train workers for employment in this field.”
Broadrick says that this grant is only the beginning. “The District School Committee has been interested in finding new ways to develop our Culinary and Hospitality program,” he said, “During this year’s capital budget preparation, we plan to discuss ways the District can provide additional support to these programs by committing District time and materials to sensible renovations of our restaurant, bakery and kitchen spaces. This is very much a team effort, and everyone is on board, starting with the Committee.”
(NOTE: The above press release is from Shawsheen Tech.)
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