How is Connecticut developing tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing workforce?
By Bob Sobolewski
In my last post, I encouraged us to discard old ideas about how we used to make things in the U.S., and to be open to careers with today’s advanced manufacturing companies.
President Obama’s National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing aims to increase investments in advanced manufacturing technologies, expand the number of workers with advanced manufacturing skills, make our training and education systems more responsive and support partnerships to create new manufacturing technologies.
As part of our country’s manufacturing strategy, a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation and advanced manufacturing institutes at the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy are looking at how we can improve our use of materials and our production methods.
Meanwhile, Connecticut’s focusing on helping train and connect workers to fill open positions. What have we done so far?
Manufacturers have expressed their needs.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s High Growth Job Training Initiative grant, in The Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s Education Foundation created certificate programs (college credit and noncredit) in lean manufacturing and supply chain management.
Educators are responding.
The CBIA Foundation’s lean manufacturing and supply chain management certificate programs were so successful that the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (part of the Connecticut Community Colleges’ College of Technology) and CBIA members continue to build on this training curriculum for both students and teachers.
We’re creating pathways to high tech manufacturing careers.
Connecticut’s Technical High School System and the Connecticut Community Colleges (COC) work together to offer our state’s technical high school students a College to Career Pathways program. The program allows students to earn up to 14 college credits at the same time they’re in high school, while benefiting from college-level counseling, career fairs, job shadowing and internships. It’s a great way to help our technical high school students jump start a 2 or 4-year degree and begin plotting their career options.
We’re supporting our teachers.
As part of the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association and in affiliation with the New England Association of Technology Teachers, the CT Technology and Engineering Education Association (CTEEA) offers training and education for all teachers who want to present the latest advances in manufacturing to their students.
We’re beginning to connect job seekers with employers.
Earlier this year, U.S. Representative John Larson introduced the Connecticut Manufacturing Job Match Initiative, an effort to link employers with qualified employees.
We’re calling upon UConn.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Next Generation Connecticut initiative aims to leverage the University of Connecticut’s resources to build Connecticut’s future workforce, create jobs, and bring new life to our state’s economy.
Some of Connecticut’s initiatives have just begun, while others have already trained and placed skilled employees. Our challenge is to keep up the momentum, translating job requirements to relevant education and training programs.
Most importantly, we must continue to demonstrate how advanced manufacturing will help fuel our economic recovery, and why careers in this sector are both challenging and fulfilling.