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A Look at Vocational Education [PHOTOS]

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray toured the high school vocational programs last week and Peabody Patch tagged along, getting a close-up glimpse at the classrooms and labs.

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray paid a visit to Peabody last Thursday to tour the vocational programs at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School.

As chairman of the governor's STEM Advisory Council (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), Murray pledged to visit every vocational and technical high school in the state. He said Thursday he is about three-quarters through to his goal now.

Murray talked briefly with school administrators and Mayor Ted Bettencourt before embarking on the tour. Murray noted that recent studies are showing the manufacturing sector has strengthened in the Bay State over the past four years, and there are also about 100,000 workers preparing to retire by 2018.

He said that last point just highlights the need for a young, trained and skilled workforce to replace those retirees.

The existing vocational programs at PVMHS include cosmetology, culinary arts and electronics, while the automotive technology, auto body and carpentry shops are located at Higgins Middle School. A new daycare program at the high school that will employ vocational students to care for employees' children will be up and running in the coming months.

With Peabody a major player in the new regional vocational school under construction in Danvers, the existing PVMHS vocational program will see some changes once the new school opens, most notably the three shops at the Higgins moving over to Danvers and students having access to more programs and training. There are no plans at this time to discontinue classes at the high school.

The aforementioned study was unveiled by the Boston Foundation -- a report by Northeastern University Professor Barry Bluestone that finds that while the state's manufacturing industry suffered significant job losses during the recent recession, it is now finding its footing and the number of jobs is beginning to level off. There are also positive signs via investments in new technology. The report said the average annual salary in the industry is more than $75,000.

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