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Casino Industry Workforce Development Cost Put At $9 Million

A report to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission estimates the state will need to establish a labor pool of 30,000 candidates to fill approximately 10,000 jobs in the new casino industry. Commissioners  will need to establish a plan for workforce development to go along with a master schedule that projects the awarding of casino licenses in the winter of 2014.   WAMC’s  Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports

   The report  prepared  by the state’s community colleges and various workforce development agencies urges the gaming industry regulators in Massachusetts to take a proactive approach to workforce development.  Holyoke Community College  president William Messner says if Massachusetts does not have the trained workers the gaming industry needs the casino operators will go out of state to hire.

   The report recommends that the commission set the requirements for employment in the casino industry, including residency, basic educational needs, criminal background checks and drug screening.  It urges the creation of a certification for all potential casino workers and a license for the actual gaming  jobs.  Its estimated that of the ten thousand casino jobs, four thousand will require a license.

   Further, the report recommends the gaming commission designate the Casino Career Training Institute, as the only provider of training for the licensed casino jobs. The institute is the collaboration of the state’s community colleges and various workforce development agencies.  Messner says the community colleges are in the best position to recruit and train people to work in the casinos.

   The report from the community colleges was presented Tuesday to an informal meeting of the gaming commission conducted  at Holyoke Community College by two of the five commissioners.   Commissioner James McHugh  praised the report calling it very exciting and very comprehensive.

   Developing a workforce for the casino industry won’t be inexpensive.  The report estimates the cost of training at $9 million dollars.  Commissioner Bruce Stebbins said funding will need to come from a variety of sources

   The resort casino in western Massachusetts would be the largest construction  project in the region’s history, and representatives of  the construction trades urged gaming commissioners Tuesday  to require the builders to hire part  of the workforce from the host and surrounding communities.

   Frank Callahan , president of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council, said there is an ample local pool of skilled tradesmen  to fill all the casino construction jobs.

   Several companies are expected  to compete for the only casino license that  will be issued in western Massachusetts.  Ameristar Casinos and MGM Resorts International have proposed projects in Springfield.  Mohegan Sun has pursued a casino project for many years in Palmer.

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