Manufacturing Today
- Page 6
Waterbury Addressed the Need for Skilled Manufacturing Work
Catherine Awwad, Executive Director,
Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board

As manufacturing continues to offer significant career opportunities in the city and the region, the ongoing development of a skilled manufacturing workforce is vital.

In 2014, Mayor Neil M. O’Leary had the foresight to approach the board of directors of the Manufacturers Alliance Service Corp. (MASC), located on Interstate Lane in the Reidville Industrial Park, and work with them to restructure and revitalize the Waterbury Adult Ed Tech Training Center.

In the last year the program has seen an increase in the number of trainees completing the training and earning industry-recognized National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) certifications sought by area employers.

Many of the graduates have participated in a Transitional Jobs program funded by the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board (NRWIB). The Transitional Jobs program allows an employer to try out the graduate for 30 days, with wages covered by the NRWIB’s federal funding.

The Connecticut Apprenticeship program offers registered employers a reimbursement of $5 per hour for hiring and registering an apprentice in manufacturing. Employers participating the NRWIB On-the-Job Training program, electing to hire qualified candidates, receive up to 50 percent reimbursement of the new hire’s wage for the first 800 hours of employment. When leveraged, these two programs can significantly reduce the cost of training a new employee.

MASC, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, sought funding through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to increase training opportunities for Waterbury’s low-income population. With a successful application and $50,000 in scholarship money for eligible city residents, the MASC training center is now seeking to raise awareness of additional slots made available by this grant award.

Area manufacturing employers routinely look to these MASC graduates as potential employees. The MASC Center is providing nighttime classes for the Toolmaking Apprenticeship program. Plumbing and electrical workers apprentice training (on a statewide level) also takes place at the MASC Center.

The MASC Center is also expanding its offerings to the community on a walk-in basis. Realizing the importance of the Tech Center’s curriculum, the city, under Mayor O’Leary’s leadership, has stepped up to make the walk-in offerings a reality.

Across town at the Waterbury Career Academy, students as early as the ninth grade are beginning to take college-level manufacturing classes through Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC). The Career Academy is a NIMS-accredited site producing high school graduates for immediate entry into the workforce. These graduates can continue their education at either NVCC in the Advanced Manufacturing Training program or at MASC, where plans are underway to offer Level II NIMS training programs.

The ability of NVCC and MASC to address the needs of manufacturing employers in the region through curriculum adjustments that are demand driven is the primary tool to answer that No. 1 need for a skilled and available workforce that drives a business to consider relocating to our region. This is an ongoing process that is recognized for the importance it bears in keeping Waterbury and the region growing!

For information, call 203-574-6971 or visit www.nrwib.com