Yesterday’s breakfast forum also focused on the future of jobs in the region, including a talk by the executive director of the Salem-based North Shore Workforce Investment Board, Mary Sarris.
Sarris praised O’Connell’s efforts, saying the school is critical to training the region’s workforce which is dominated by health care, manufacturing, computers, medical devices and aerospace and defense companies, with a growing cluster of biotech firms.
She said there is a need to train younger workers, as 45 percent of the North Shore’s labor force is 45 years old and older, while only 30 percent of the labor force is under the age of 35.
“That’s a challenge for us,” Sarris said.
O’Connell also made a pitch to industry leaders to partner with the school and teach students skills they need to succeed in their companies.
One of those who liked what he heard was Peter Furniss, CEO of Footprint Power, the head of the company redeveloping the Salem Harbor power station.
“Having kids understand how the world works is a wonderful thing and there is really no better way to understand that than to experience that firsthand,” Furniss said. “I love the idea of the technical high school. I love the fact that they provide a range of different experiences for kids with different levels of capacity and interest.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.