It’s always in the news: Companies nationwide desperately need skilled workers to fill their high-paying manufacturing jobs. And at the moment, those workers simply don’t exist.
Connecticut manufacturers are having the same problem.
Fact: More than half the top 100 companies in Connecticut are manufacturers.
Yet many young people with aptitudes that are perfectly suited to manufacturing, aren’t interested. Manufacturing is at the bottom of their career lists.
What young people may not know is that 21st century manufacturing is nothing like the assembly-line drudgery of generations past.
In today’s manufacturing field, the work is incredibly varied. Math, electrical, mechanical, computer and technology skills are required, and salaries are surprisingly high.
So, how can local high schools persuade students that manufacturing is worth a serious look?
EASTCONN’s Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) magnet high school in Danielson offers students a chance to explore
the exciting new world of manufacturing through its Manufacturing Pathways program.
“We offer classes that introduce students to some of the fascinating basics required in the field of manufacturing,” said QMC Principal Mary Kay Tshonas, “and thanks to our partnership with Quinebaug Valley Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, QMC students can pursue a fast-track to obtain their manufacturing certificates, right out of high school.”
“Students who are interested in manufacturing tend to be analytical, more mechanically inclined, with a love for hands-on, problem-solving activities,” said Robyn Incera, who teaches Manufacturing Math and Innovations in Manufacturing classes at QMC.
Ten students are currently taking these classes, while nearly 50 QMC students have taken manufacturing classes at QMC since the program began.
“If we can help kids acknowledge their talents and then focus them and sharpen them, maybe they will see all the potential
that manufacturing offers them,” said Incera.
“Manufacturers want well-trained, reliable workers with manufacturing certificates,” said Steve LaPointe, director of QVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, which is co-located in the same building as QVCC and QMC in Danielson. “That may surprise a lot of people,” he said. “But once high school students earn their manufacturing certificates after two semesters at QVCC, they can move quickly into high-paying manufacturing jobs, pretty much anywhere in the country.”
QVCC’s state-of-the-art Manufacturing Technology Center offers a Manufacturing Certificate in Advanced Manufacturing Machine Technology and Mechatronics Automation Technician where 30 credits from each get transferred directly to an associate’s degree in Technology Studies. “These graduates are becoming a hot commodity as businesses struggle to replace the aging workforce with skilled employees,” LaPointe said. “In the past, QMC students who have continued at QVCC have gotten internships or jobs at Whitcraft, Spirol, Westminster Tool and Putnam Plastics,” said Tshonas. “We also have good relationships with other companies through the Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Association (EAMA).
“QMC’s Manufacturing Pathway is a great option for students who are independent, capable learners, but who are not as
interested in pure academics,” she continued. “At QMC, we’ll introduce them to today’s manufacturing careers, and give them the background, the access and the opportunity to pursue what could be their dream job and a bright future.”
To learn more about the QMC and its Manufacturing Pathway options for students, contact QMC Principal Mary Kay Tshonas at firstname.lastname@example.org.