February 15, 2019

State reveals new plan to bridge CT's manufacturing workforce gaps

Photo | Contributed
Photo | Contributed
Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) President Mark Ojakian rolled out the "TEAM Works" program on Friday, Feb. 15.

Connecticut's public college and university system on Friday launched a new advanced manufacturing workforce development program aimed at filling the industry's job gaps.

Alongside Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) President Mark Ojakian on Friday at the Connecticut Science Center announced the creation of the Technology Education Advanced Manufacturing (T.E.A.M.) Works program, which calls for collaborations between leaders in the government, education and private sectors to fill up to 35,000 new manufacturing jobs needed in the state over the next two decades.

The new program will allow CSCU's network of 17 institutions, and 85,000 enrolled students, to tap into advanced manufacturing technology provided by private higher education institutions and technical high schools.

CSCU is currently in the final stages of inking a partnership agreement with the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS).

Officials said CSCU's eight advanced manufacturing centers located at community colleges across the state lack the capacity needed to educate enough students to meet the hiring needs of Connecticut's 4,100 manufacturers.

"Connecticut already has a top-notch workforce, but we need to be ready for an influx of advanced manufacturing jobs," Bysiewicz said.

"It is critical that our educational institutions and employers partner to nurture our school-to-workforce pipeline in order to meet the growing needs of our manufacturing industry."

The T.E.A.M. Works strategic plan tasks CSCU and its prospective educational partners to quantity the cost of expanding CSCU's existing advanced manufacturing network in terms of the staff and equipment needed for the venture.

The program will also explore opportunities to mitigate costs under CSCU's network and find new funding sources, in addition to identifying key metrics to track its success.

Today, there are between 12,000 to 13,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs in Connecticut, according to CSCU.

CSCU over the last two years leveraged a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand its advanced manufacturing centers, increasing the amount of tech hubs at local community colleges from four to seven. An eighth tech center was recently added.

In 2019, the state's higher education system expects to award 800 students with manufacturing certificates, while also training 2,000 incumbent workers.

CSCU, which could face a shortfall as large as $57 million in fiscal year 2020, said it's ramping up their advanced manufacturing resources as state funding has dwindled over recent years.

Connecticut's eight advanced manufacturing colleges are each projected to accrue operating deficits "for the foreseeable future," according to its strategic plan.

On average, CSCU said it costs about $15,500 to train each student seeking a certificate.

This story has been updated

View the new program's strategic plan here

Read more

HBJ Special Report: Building Connecticut's workforce pipeline

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