Acting on behalf of the Massachusetts Casino Careers Training Institute, Holyoke Community College President Bill Messner yesterday signed agreements with the four developers interested in building and operating a casino in western Massachusetts.
President Messner is chairperson of the Training Institute, a consortium created by the state's 15 community colleges and numerous workforce development agencies throughout the Commonwealth. The Institute's purpose is to establish casino job training programs in each of the three regions of the state where a casino will be located: Greater Boston, southeastern Massachusetts, and western Massachusetts.
By signing the agreements, the developers who are competing for a single license to operate a casino in western Massachusetts -- MGM Resorts International, Penn National Gaming, Mohegan Sun and Western Massachusetts Development Associates --agreed to collaborate with the Institute on workforce training and related services in accordance with regulations established by the state Gaming Commission.
"We're very excited," Messner said at a press conference held Monday at the TD Bank building in downtown Springfield. "It's terrific that all four casino operators are here and they've said they're willing to work with us. Because that's what it's going to take, all of us working together."
Working through a joint workforce development program called TWO -- Training and Workforce Options -- HCC and Springfield Technical Community College have taken the lead in bringing together all the groups and agencies involved in the Institute, which includes the community colleges as well as four-year public universities, regional employment boards, one-stop career shops and other economic development groups.
"We don't want any arguments over who is going to do what," Messner said. "We are going to work together."
Last month, President Messner signed a memorandum of understanding on behalf of the Training Institute with the state Gaming Commission, which will ultimately select a casino developer for each of three regions.
Some 3,000 jobs will need to be filled in each of the state's three casinos, according to estimates. About 30 percent of those jobs will be in gaming operations, such as dealing, with the rest in other area such as culinary arts, hospitality, maintenance and security.
Springfield Technical Community College President Ira Rubenzahl said the Institute hopes to start training workers in 2015, about a year before the casino opens.
"This is a unique opportunity because of the numbers of people involved," said Rubenzahl, "so we expect to be educating literally thousands of individuals."
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