Manufacturers in Connecticut complain that qualified workers are in short supply. Demand for machining, manufacturing, computer design and other skills is high. For instance, Pratt & Whitney has a manufacturing backlog of its next-generation jet engines, and Electric Boat is ramping up to build three subs. But, who’s qualified to perform these jobs?
Employers are now thinking ahead … well beyond community colleges and vocational schools … to help assure a steady flow of skilled workers into the future. They’re now sparking interest early, while kids are still in high school, and to get pre-apprenticeships underway.
One program, certified by the Department of Labor, allows high school students to apply the hours of work and study they’ve completed to an aerospace manufacturer certification.
In the case of Sikorsky and its union partner, they reach out as early as sophomore year to plant the seed. Juniors are invited to tour the helicopter manufacturer and learn four key criteria for program participation: attendance, attitude, community service, and grades.
While 60 percent of employers surveyed said it was common for job applicants to lack the technology skills needed; another survey found that 90 percent of employers were more likely to consider hiring applicants with an apprenticeship with the company.
In Connecticut, pre-apprenticeship and manufacturing Career Technical Education is now offered at 15 comprehensive high schools and 14 vocational technical high schools.
Employers win, because they can interest students in a career even before they graduate. Students who are hired start at $20 an hour and know they have a future. In fact, the 2016 Census’s Community Survey reports that the average manufacturing worker brings home more than $57,000 annually, That’s an all-around good deal for everyone.
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