Gubernatorial hopeful Steven Grossman proposes hike in vocational education spending

Treasurer Steven Grossman, a Democratic candidate for governor, said Tuesday he wanted to boost state investments in vocational education and increase internship and workplace experience programs for students.

The proposals came as part of an education plan Grossman released geared toward closing the gap between what students learn in school and the skills required to succeed in today’s job market.

“Fundamentally, we’ve got a need to align the needs of a growing business community — a rapidly changing business community — with what we’re teaching,” Grossman said in a telephone interview after touring the Shawsheen Valley Technical High School in Billerica. “That’s the ticket for long-term economic growth and job creation.”

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Grossman emphasized that public-private partnerships could boost the number of internships and similar programs available to students. That could, he said, help students’ prospects once they enter the job market.

“Experiential education is seen by almost every employer you talk to as being a critical component” of what they are looking for, Grossman said.

Grossman began the short interview by apologizing for being delayed in calling a reporter, saying he tried some baked goods made by students, including pecan rolls.

“We had a little irrational exuberance in the culinary arts department,” he explained with a laugh.

Grossman’s five-page plan offers some specifics, but also sweeping statements about the power of learning.

“For centuries education has served as the great equalizer for our Commonwealth and our nation,” Grossman’s plan says. “Unless we deliberately address the gap between what our economy needs and what our students learn, the American Dream will remain out of reach for too many citizens who feel left out and left behind.”

Grossman’s proposal comes one day after Juliette Kayyem, another Democratic candidate for governor and a former state and federal homeland security official, released her own education plan and visited a school.

Grossman is among the Democrats running to succeed Governor Deval Patrick, who has pledged not to run for a third term. His opponents for the party’s nomination are: Kayyem; Attorney General Martha Coakley; Donald M. Berwick, a former Obama administration health care official; Joseph C. Avellone, an executive at a bio-pharmaceutical research firm.

Coakley sketched out her education proposal at a Boston school last month.

On the Republican side, Charlie Baker, the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee, and Mark R. Fisher, a political novice from Shrewsbury who aligns himself with the Tea Party, are running.

Two independent candidates have also launched bids: Evan Falchuk, an attorney and former business executive; and evangelical christian pastor Scott Lively.

Venture capital investor Jeffrey S. McCormick, an independent, is seriously considering a run as well.