Manufacturing Associate Degree Education in Northwestern Connecticut
As advanced manufacturing moves forward in the Nation, there is an increasing need to prepare a skilled, flexible, and innovative workforce. This project is developing an advanced manufacturing technician associate degree program that is designed to increase the number of skilled workers in the northwest corner of Connecticut (CT) and provide a pathway where students can pursue associate and bachelor degrees in manufacturing so they can advance their careers. The college is partnering with three school systems, the Northwest Connecticut Manufacturers Coalition (NCMC), and Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (RCNGM). In addition, the college is a long-standing member of the Connecticut College of Technology (COT). As such, the college and its partners benefit from the best practices, curriculum, and articulations developed by the COT.
The project is increasing the partnerships between higher education and industry by creating a manufacturing technology program and a career pathway that can be adopted by other high schools and community colleges especially those in rural areas, and by increasing the number of high school and community college students interested in pursuing careers in manufacturing.
Surveys of the manufacturers in the northwest region helped to identify four industry-driven, workforce-based needs that are being addressed in this project:
1. Recruitment: Recruiting a skilled manufacturing workforce requires raising awareness of career possibilities within advanced technology and manufacturing fields. This project is continuing with current outreach programs to junior high and high school students to inform future skilled workers. It is also exposing unemployed, underemployed, displaced, and incumbent workers to the necessary skill sets and career possibilities of manufacturing within northwestern CT.
2. Education: A majority of manufacturers in advanced technological sectors nationwide indicate that they have a difficult time filling positions because applicants lack the necessary skills for the job. This project is developing a degree pathway that provides workers with advanced technology skills to meet workforce needs.
3. Retention: Manufacturing employers in northwestern CT have difficulty retaining employees who live outside of the area. Many employees who have the appropriate skills do not want to travel or move to rural CT and therefore end up leaving after they are trained. This project is focusing on providing people who already live in the northwest corner of the state with the skills and education they need to obtain jobs in the advanced manufacturing sector.
4. Continued education and career advancement: Modern manufacturing requires workers to keep up with technology. Incumbent workers also need skills for advancement. Both of these require a strong partnership between manufacturers and the college. This project strengthens that collaboration and provides workers with a pathway to advance their education.