The Effect of Manufacturing Technology Training in the State of ConnecticutMarch 07, 2017
Conrad F. Rioux, Machining Technology Instructor
Asnuntuck Community College
Connecticut’s manufacturing industry finished 2016 up 1,000 jobs over 2015 - a rarity since the 1980s. The state’s Labor Department predicts that the manufacturing sector will grow 2.8 percent by 2024, primarily in aerospace and parts manufacturing, creating greater demand for an educated and skilled workforce. The state is making strides to fill this need through the Connecticut Advanced Manufacturing Initiative (CAMI), implemented at several community colleges (Asnuntuck, Housatonic, Naugatuck Valley, Quinebaug Valley, Manchester, Middlesex and Three Rivers).
Andrew Lattimer of BlumShapiro recently sat down with Conrad Rioux of Asnuntuck Community College (ACC). Here is the story of what ACC is doing to make a difference in the manufacturing community. The Manufacturing Technology Program at ACC opened in February 1998, with the purpose of providing qualified candidates to the Connecticut manufacturing community. Employers were turning away work because they could not find qualified individuals with the required skill sets. At the same time, companies had begun to look at the United States as a country in which they might want to do business. The question most asked when companies visited Connecticut was, “Are qualified personnel available to grow a workforce?” This had become the deal maker or breaker. It became incumbent upon Connecticut’s Community Colleges to assist local manufacturers by providing skilled personnel for both present and future workforces.
Since that time, the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at ACC has now grown significantly to include not only Advanced Machine Technology, but also Welding Technology and Electronics and Electron Mechanical technology. The center has impacted the entire state of Connecticut as well as Western Massachusetts in the sense that due to its success, Governor Malloy provided funding to open an additional three centers modeled after Asnuntuck and provided the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at Asnuntuck with funding for a new 27,000 square foot facility.
With this new capacity, Asnuntuck will be able to provide quality cost effective technology education to over 450 people. The new addition also will positively affect the Electronics Systems and Controllers and Electro-Mechanical programs, as the space currently utilized by the Advanced Machine Technology Program will be converted over to Electronics and Electro-Mechanical programming and College Connections. College Connections is a program for high school juniors and seniors who attend the college five days a week for approximately 2 hours per day. Through this program, the students earn 3 to 4 college credits per semester at the same time they are earning high school credit. Along the same pathway as College Connections, the college has implemented a program in which students are introduced to manufacturing in middle school. They continue through high school, earning college credits through the College Connections program and by taking college courses at their high school, enabling them to graduate with an Associate Degree in one year.
As one can readily discern, the purpose of CAMI, through programs like Asnuntuck’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, is to provide the manufacturing sector with well-trained, qualified, career personnel, which will enable Connecticut manufacturers to continue to grow their businesses.