Manufacturing Today
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Make ManufaCTuring Your Future!

By Alyce Stiles
Associate Director of Education
CT Center for Advanced Technology


“The best thing about the Young Manufacturers Academy program is that we get to use a lot of CNC machines by ourselves. I want to be an engineer and learning to program CAD systems is a big jump starter.” – Young Manufacturers Academy attendee, Summer 2019


Led by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT), Young Manufacturers Academy (YMA) programs are held during the summer and school year and provide hands-on opportunities for middle-grade students (fifth through eighth grades) to explore manufacturing and build skills, such as robotics, programming, 3D printing and engineering design.


Students are given an opportunity to practice and participate in these fun, hands-on workshops to learn how next generation manufacturing facilities operate. The academies are free programs made possible by the state Department of Economic and Community Development’s Manufacturing Innovation Fund, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority.


“The students often start off knowing very little about what they think manufacturing is all about and the Young Manufacturers Academy helps them to explore the wide diversity of careers available,” said Kristi Oki, advanced technology education coordinator at CCAT. “This program inspires them to discover something about the industry that personally interests them.”


Inspiring the next generation of workers to consider Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) careers is critical to support the growing needs companies have. Many students across Connecticut have never set foot in a manufacturing facility and are not aware of the high-paying and rewarding careers available in today’s manufacturing and technology companies. Connecticut. Dream It. Do It. (CT DIDI) creates curriculum and implements programs for middle and high school students interested in these STEAM-based careers. The CT DIDI programs, in partnership with schools and industry groups, show the many positive images of modern manufacturing.


Now in its 11th year, the YMA program has taught more than 1,800 students from over 40 towns. During the 2019-20 school year, CCAT will provide YMA programming to 3,500 middle-grade students in Hartford, East Hartford, and Bloomfield, as well as New London/Groton and New Haven/ Bridgeport.


Pathways to Manufacturing Careers


Connecticut is home to over 4,000 manufacturing companies and nearly 160,000 people working in the industry. A large variety of products are made right here in Connecticut, from parts for airplanes, submarines, tools, medical devices to toys, food and beverages. There are many innovative products being designed, created, assembled and packaged in your backyard — and great jobs available to those who want to make them.


Nearly one out of every 10 jobs in Connecticut are in the manufacturing industry and the average annual wage is $96,812 (Manufacturing Institute, 2018). As the current workforce of baby boomers ages and retires, skilled employees are more critical than ever before. High-demand jobs of tomorrow include automation and robotics, engineering design, information technology (IT) and cybersecurity, logistics, and collection and utilization of data.


Connecticut. Dream It. Do It. works with a variety of education partners to help guide students toward a pathway that will develop the skills needed for future careers in manufacturing. Whether the pathway involves attending one of the Connecticut technical high schools, manufacturing and technology programs within Connecticut’s comprehensive high schools, a Connecticut state college or university, the Community College Advanced Technology Manufacturing Centers, private colleges or universities or programs through the workforce boards and job centers, there are many opportunities to build your skills and a career in manufacturing.


Apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs are paid training programs that allow students to earn while learning. On-the-job training, combined with classroom instruction, ensures a well-qualified, job-ready employee. Training apprenticeships administered through the state Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship are generally one to four years and provide job-ready credentials upon completion.


As an approved training provider and licensed testing center, CCAT delivers pre-apprenticeship training and administers basic and technical skills assessments. Cohorts for high school and post-secondary students consist of 72 hours of classroom instruction in core manufacturing concepts, supported