19 Graduate from Free Manufacturing Program at Gateway Community College (GCC)

Monday, March 25, 2019

Students in an intensive five-week manufacturing job training program celebrated their graduation March 15 during a ceremony at Gateway Community College (GCC). 

A program managed by Workforce Alliance of South Central Connecticut, Skill Up for Manufacturing was developed to provide a free program at GCC aimed to quickly train underemployed and unemployed state residents for manufacturing jobs.  Nineteen students graduated as part of the inaugural program.  

U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, officials from Workforce Alliance and GCC President Paul Broadie II praised the program for its initial success.  Every program graduate secured job offers.  

Speaking to program graduates, President Broadie noted that economic development happens through partnerships.  He added that the idea of designing a five-week training program that would prepare students to be immediately employable in manufacturing jobs seemed radical when it was conceived.  

President Broadie said that he recently had the opportunity to speak to program participants during an ice cream social in the GCC cafeteria and met a student who was considering leaving the state before learning about the possibility of a job training program that could quickly put him to work.  Dr. Broadie said that he was moved by the student’s story, his effort to excel in the program, and the determination he showed to improve his circumstances.  

Congresswoman DeLauro noted that this program model had success in eastern Connecticut and it is expected to be replicated in other areas.  She added that the state has a rich history in manufacturing and the new graduates will be able to “carry on the state’s legacy in manufacturing.”  Congresswoman DeLauro said that the program was funded through grants and she plans to work to secure more funding to continue providing skilled workers for available manufacturing opportunities.

The Skill Up coursework was developed in coordination with manufacturers including Allnex, Brooks & Whittle Packaging Solutions, Penn Globe, PTA Plastics, Rowland Technologies, Ulbrich Steel, Wepco Plastics, and the New Haven Manufacturers Association.  Graduates have completed 250 hours of classroom activities.  

Bill Villano, President and CEO of Workforce Alliance, said that there are more than 13,000 unfilled manufacturing job openings in the state.  He added that Connecticut manufacturing led to job growth for the last two years.   

Class Speaker Kevin Donahue said that he was born and raised in Milford and previously had jobs with Union Trust and SNET.  He moved to Atlanta, Georgia, but returned to be near family.  Donahue added that he was considering his options, including moving out of state, when he learned about this opportunity through Workforce Alliance.  Donahue said that his classmates provided motivation and inspiration and he found “an umbrella of support” throughout the Skill Up program from GCC Continuing Education Coordinator Victoria Dancy, Lead Instructors Mike DelVecchio and Bill Schmalzer, and others.        

Graduate Rich Martin of West Haven said that the five-week program was condensed yet provided a pace that immersed students into many aspects of the manufacturing field.  Prior to entering the program, he said that he had a vague understanding of manufacturing.  He was encouraged to learn about all the different types of jobs in the field and liked knowing that employers were interested in immediately hiring graduates and training them for advancement opportunities as well.