The United States Department of Labor Secretary was in Connecticut on Tuesday, April 16 to see for himself efforts to reskill the state’s manufacturing workforce.
Alexander Acosta visited a job center in Montville that has had a hand in placing around 1,300 people into employment at local manufacturing companies.
He also went to a local community college – a place he used as a model for the development of tomorrow’s skilled workers.
“The students that we saw today at Quinebaug had job offers and the employers said ‘we’re going to hire you and then, we’re going to pay for you to go learn with job offer in-hand.’ And then with those skills, they go back to the employer,” Acosta said. “As the folks here are doing a good job, we want to send them back to gain more skills. That ‘earning and learning’ environment is the future of work because the workplace is changing so quickly that skills need to develop.”
The Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board is the organization that runs the Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative. Quinebaug Valley Community College and other schools are a vital part of the pipeline, churning out skilled workers.
John Beauregard, the president and CEO of the board -- known colloquially as EWIB -- used the visit to highlight the need for continued federal funding of the program.
“All we need now is the tuition dollars basically to pay for that intensive, fairly rigorous, but short-term training that has really appealed to a lot of workers – either young workers entering the workforce or workers who’ve been recently dislocated that say ‘look, I have six months of employment. I need to get something. I need to get my skill polished and back into the workforce to feed my family in three months or less,’” Beauregard said.
EWIB reports that 700 of the jobs coming out of the pipeline have been at submarine manufacturer Electric Boat.
Ricardo Jimenez, a machinist at Electric Boat, came through the pipeline from QVCC.
“It’s a challenge to get a job that will pay well,” Jimenez said. “The pipeline is a vehicle to get you to a successful career and something that you can really support yourself and your family on.”
Officials say that Electric Boat will need to hire 900 more people this year to keep up with the demand for construction.