While the Massachusetts Gaming Commission does not expect to award the first casino license in the state until a year from now, plans are underway to start training people to fill the thousands of jobs the new gaming industry promises.
The state’s 15 community colleges have signed job training agreements with most of the entities hoping to develop resort casinos in Massachusetts. The agreement commits the casino operators to work with the community colleges and regional employment boards towards the goal of filling casino jobs with local people who are unemployed, or underemployed.
The community colleges and several workforce development agencies teamed up last year to create the Massachusetts Casino Careers Training Institute. Holyoke Community College President William Messner is the chairperson of the institute. He said the agreements with the would-be casino operators are a significant milestone.
The gaming commission has agreed to work with the institute to create certification and licensing standards for the casino workers. Messner said the agreements recognize that the state’s community colleges are in the best position to recruit and train people to work in the casino industry.
The community colleges plan to license curriculum that has been used to train Atlantic City casino workers. Training sites will be established in each of the three regions of the state were a resort casino license is available. Ira Rubenzahl, the president of Springfield Technical Community College said the goal is to have the classes start at least a year before the casinos open.
William Ward, the president of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County said the sooner the training begins the better
Its estimated the casino industry in Massachusetts will produce 10,000 jobs. Workforce development specialists say at least 30,000 people will be vetted for employment. About 30 percent of the jobs will require training for occupations that will be licensed by the gaming commission.
Jeff Morris, who is director of public affairs for Penn National, one of the 11 entities seeking a casino license in Massachusetts, said the company welcomes the workforce development agreement.
Penn National has proposed an $807 million casino project in downtown Springfield. MGM Resorts also wants to build a casino in another part of downtown Springfield. The administration of Mayor Domenic Sarno is negotiating development terms with both companies. Mohegan Sun wants to build a casino in Palmer. Hard Rock International has proposed a resort casino on the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield. Only one casino license will be issued in western Massachusetts.