Commission stresses coordination of job creation with school curriculum

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(Host) A commission established by the legislature to look into ways to keep young people from leaving Vermont presented its report to the Governor and lawmakers today.

The Next Generation Commission says the state needs to coordinate job creation efforts with school curriculum, in order to make sure that young people are trained for better jobs.

The commission says one-third of Vermont students haven’t received career training in high school and don’t plan to attend college.

The report also says the state needs to dramatically increase funding for scholarships to attend in-state colleges – and devote more resources to job training.

Commission chairman Bill Stenger spoke on VPR’s Vermont Edition.

He says one of the recommendations is the appointment of a person or a group to champion the commission’s goals.

(Stenger) “We cannot afford to fail. The state is in great need of clear thinking and a swift and well thought out strategy. And the idea of a champion, whether it’s an individual or a small committee, is that they have the unfailing support of the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.”

(Host) Stenger says he’s convinced the solutions can be found in a non-partisan way, even though legislators and the Governor clashed over a proposed scholarship program last year.

He says he’d like to see a number of actions taken on the commissions recommendations in the coming year.

(Stenger) “I want to see an energized economic development plan. I want to see a short term broadband solution. I’d like to see a funding task force put together so we can be looking forward to how to expand our scholarship and loan forgiveness programs. I’d like to see the Department of Education look very hard and inject in the curriculum down to the grammer school level the important elements of career training.”

(Host) The Next Generation Commission was created because of a concern that Vermont’s population is growing older as young people leave the state.

If the trend continues, the number of people over the age of 65 is expected to double in the next 25 years, while the number of people in the workforce will grow only slowly over time.

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