NEW BEDFORD - Governor Charlie Baker addressed the importance of vocational education to a crowd of over 500 local business and elected officials during Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School's Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday evening. 

Baker said within the first two months of his term as governor, he understood the importance of teaching skills to the future workforce that would in turn move the entire Commonwealth ahead.

"The more we can do as a Commonwealth to help people build on skills they've already got or help them develop skills that other people want, the more successful we're going to be in building strong communities and a strong Commonwealth," Baker said.

The Baker Administration has already given out over $30 million in state funds to 65 vocational high schools and community colleges to help fund technical education through the Skills Capital Grant Program.

In addition to highlighting the importance of funding and increasing vocational programming across Massachusetts, Baker posed a question to the several vocational high school superintendents in the crowd that was answered with a roar of applause.

"I've always wondered, if there was a vocational and technical school out there that would like to get into the associate degree business?" Baker asked.

He noted that it makes sense to utilize the space and instructors to provide access to higher education in a familiar setting.

"I really think, in the grand scheme of things, if we're all about skills and we're all about trying to find ways to help kids and young adults build the skills they need to be successful in a constantly changing world, you have some real assets that we should try and leverage," said Baker.

The governor admitted that it would likely take some time and plenty of discussion with education officials and legislators, but believes it would be a step in the right direction to get more young adults onto the path toward a degree.