With manufacturers in Massachusetts struggling to find trained people to hire, Governor Deval Patrick today announced a pilot program between two community colleges funded by a partnership that includes some of the state’s biggest companies.
The program run jointly by Springfield Technical Community College and Holyoke Community College aims to take unemployed and under-employed people and give them the skills needed to get an entry level job in manufacturing. Governor Patrick, who announced the pilot program at STCC, called it vital to enhancing the state’s competitive edge.
" We are growing manufacturing now fifty percent faster than the national growth rate. The challenge that presents is for people, for talent."
A recent report from UMass Dartmouth said one in three manufacturers in Massachusetts is having problems hiring workers. The state has projected a need to fill 100,000 manufacturing jobs over the next decade just to maintain current production levels.
The program will prepare 30 people, initially, to take an exam to be certified as production technicians. The colleges will work with regional employment boards, one-stop career centers and area manufacturers to place the graduates in entry level jobs, according to Jeffrey Hayden of Holyoke Community College.
"We have enough jobs, we don't have enough people for the jobs. The population for that is people who are unemployed, under-skilled, low education levels. This program is designed to get them going and moving up career ladders."
55 year-old John Aflitto of Agawam enrolled in the program two weeks ago. He has been driving a bus part-time. He said was an honor to be given a chance to learn a new skill.
"I used to be a Monsanto-Solutia worker for 22 years. I was making quite a bit compared to my situation now. This is my chance to get back to a professional work place, where I used to be and contribute."
A partnership of 16 of the state’s largest companies, including MassMutual, Smith & Wesson, and Suffolk Construction put $90,000 into developing the program. MassMutual CEO Roger Crandall said he was proud to support it
The state made an earlier investment of $1.8 million for new classrooms at STCC where the training program takes place
Governor Patrick on Friday also visited the Eureka! Scholars program at Girls Inc. of Holyoke. The program encourages young women to enter the science, technology, engineering and math fields.