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IDEAS

Job training is human infrastructure

Wedefegerson Desir, 16, worked on a display at Medford Vocational Technical High School in 2018.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Heather Hopp-Bruce

We have to think about meaningful ways to invest in our vocational and technical education facilities. You need a significant influx of dollars to ensure that we are educating our young people for the jobs of the future. Voc-tech facilities should have the capacity to grow with changing workplaces, and their equipment should reflect what you’d find in that workplace — whether it’s a construction trade, child care, or biotech. It costs a minimum of $100 million to build one new school, and so when we think about our network of vocational and technical schools, big money could help us make more sustainable investments in not just the built infrastructure but the people who will use those facilities.

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Worcester Tech, one of our newer facilities, is seen as a gem in the voc-tech system compared with older, underutilized school buildings in Boston and across the Commonwealth that have glimpses of fantastic programming but lack the right design and space for meaningful classroom experiences that can translate to the workforce. What’s happening in our classrooms needs to replicate what’s happening in the workforce. As we see what it takes to build a hospital or a biolab here in Boston — industries where we’ve seen significant investment and growth — we need to match that investment in our voc-tech schools. When we think about opportunities to move into the middle class and beyond, we do it through workforce training, and for me, that’s as important an infrastructural investment as a road or a bridge.

Annissa Essaibi George, a former Boston City Councilor and schoolteacher, was a candidate for mayor in 2021. Miles Howard is a freelance journalist in Boston.