Free adult education made possible with $1.18M grant to Franklin Tech

Millers Falls resident Jake Clark takes a welding class at Franklin County Technical School in December 2022. Franklin Tech has received a seven-figure grant to continue providing free technical education to adults.

Millers Falls resident Jake Clark takes a welding class at Franklin County Technical School in December 2022. Franklin Tech has received a seven-figure grant to continue providing free technical education to adults. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Franklin County Technical School in Montague.

Franklin County Technical School in Montague. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 10-09-2023 5:34 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Franklin County Technical School has received a seven-figure grant to continue providing free technical education to adults through a program launched last year.

Superintendent Richard Martin said the $1.18 million state Career Technical Initiative grant the school has received will be used for supplies, materials and equipment, as well as for paying instructors and enabling every student to attend at no cost to them.

“That’s the big one,” he said on Monday, “so the adult learners that are moving through our program can attend these courses for free.”

The money will provide training in the fields of automotive technology, carpentry, welding/metal fabrication, horticulture and electrical.

Franklin Tech first held night classes that prioritized teaching unemployed and underemployed adult students a year ago. The school started its latest round of Career Technical Initiative classes on Sept. 18. Another round, also funded by the grant, will start in February. These courses are taught by professional educators from Franklin Tech, and students will receive job or apprenticeship placement upon completion.

Maggie Nugent, the career and technical education director at Franklin Tech, said she worked with Adult Education Coordinator Justin Lawrence to apply for this second round of grant funding and was thrilled to learn the money would come to Turners Falls.

“It was very exciting to know we got this latest round,” she said.

Nugent explained that when Franklin Tech’s Career Technical Initiative program started last year, it only offered automotive technology and welding/metal fabrication courses. Carpentry was added in the spring, and horticulture and electrical classes have been added this fall to meet demand. Nugent said participants’ feedback has been extremely positive.

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“I can’t say enough about our instructors,” she said. “It’s really tremendous. If it continues, it will grow. It’s a win-win.”

The Career Technical Initiative grant aims to address the persistent demand in construction, trades and manufacturing sectors by creating or expanding technical education programs at vocational high schools across the state in partnership with MassHire Career Centers and Workforce Boards. The Franklin Tech program works in collaboration with the Greenfield-based MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center.

Martin said the Career Technical Initiative courses cater to adults of all ages and circumstances, and there are generally a dozen students enrolled in each course.

According to census.gov, roughly 10.7% of Franklin County residents and 11.7% of Hampshire County residents lived below the poverty line as of July 1, 2022. Data from the state Department of Economic Research shows that the automotive technology, carpentry, electrical, HVAC and horticultural industries all show a long-term increase in employment locally.

For more information about available classes, visit fcts.us/k/41/13/Career-Technical-Institute.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.