State Launches New Apprenticeship Program to Boost Manufacturing

08.11.2015
HR & Safety

Initiative ensures a pipeline of talented manufacturing workers

On July 23, Gov. Malloy announced that the state is launching a new workforce development initiative through the Manufacturing Innovation Fund that supports a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction for apprentices in the manufacturing industry.

The Manufacturing Innovation Fund Apprenticeship Program will provide wage subsidies and tuition reimbursements to eligible companies in order to increase the number of apprentices in Connecticut and ensure a talented, skilled workforce for the future.

“Connecticut manufacturing requires modern skills and we’re providing modern training,” says Gov. Malloy. “Our focus can’t just be about luring new businesses: it also has to ensure that when businesses come to Connecticut, they have a talent pool to fill their needs. This program will help residents find new jobs, provide employers with a new pool of workers, and align education and training with the needs of manufacturers.

“The training is all part of a comprehensive strategy to grow jobs, and it will no doubt bolster our already robust manufacturing industry. Right now, there are more than 200 apprentices in manufacturing occupations working for 90 employer sponsors, but we have room to grow. We have one of the most educated, most skilled workforces in the nation, and we’re working to develop it even further.”

Registered apprenticeships, which combine a structured work schedule with related classroom instruction, are a premier way to develop future precision manufacturing workers. Apprenticeships in manufacturing usually last up to four years and require 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning and 144 hours of classroom training per year.

The new program is competency based, meaning individuals will earn portable credentials as they gain experience in the classroom and on the shop floor. This approach makes the program more valuable to both the apprentice and the host company.

Eligible Businesses

The Manufacturing Innovation Fund Apprenticeship Program, initially a two-year, $7.8 million program, incentivizes individuals to participate and employers to become sponsors of registered apprenticeships.

To be eligible, Connecticut-based manufacturers must have been registered to conduct business for at least one year. Businesses involved in aerospace, medical devices, composite materials, digital manufacturing, and other technologically-advanced commercial products and services are eligible to participate.

Grants awarded through the program can be used for wage subsidy, tuition reimbursement, and to offset the costs of gaining appropriate credentials for apprentices. The grants can range up to $13,000 for two years of wages, up to $3,750 of tuition reimbursement, and up to $2,000 for credential costs. Assistance will leverage company funds and cannot exceed $18,750 for the two year period per apprentice.

Government Role

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) will fund the program as part of the Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund, a $30 million fund created to strengthen the competitiveness of Connecticut’s diverse manufacturing base.

“Larger corporations are contracting more and more work out to the supply chain of small and medium-sized manufacturing companies,” says DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith. “Therefore, the responsibility of training large numbers of workers to fill high-skilled positions is shifting to these smaller companies. This new program will help deliver a pipeline of talent to supply chain companies.”

“In addition to significant growth in the manufacturing sector this past year, retirements from these jobs make it even more critical that Connecticut have a trained workforce ready to meet the needs of its employers,” says Sharon M. Palmer commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) “Top industries in this sector: including aerospace, transportation equipment, computer and electrical products, and fabricated metals: provide good jobs and good wages, and apprenticeship programs offer excellent opportunities for long-term careers that will keep our families financially healthy and our state economically strong.”

As manager of the apprenticeship program, CTDOL will act as fiduciary agent for DECD; perform program eligibility evaluations of applicants; oversee the distribution and expenditure of funds; monitor and verify the status of approved projects; and report on impact results.

Together, DECD and CTDOL will conduct outreach and promote the program to the manufacturing industry and other organizations involved in manufacturing in Connecticut. The Apprenticeship Program complements both the Incumbent Worker Training Program and the Voucher Program introduced by the Manufacturing Innovation Fund earlier this year.

“We applaud the launch of this new apprenticeship program, which will help further develop the talent and critical skills needed to help manufacturing’s next generation meet the delivery and quality demands of the aerospace industry,” says Danny Di Perna, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Operations at Pratt & Whitney. “As we prepare for our unprecedented production increase, driven by our game-changing PurePower and F135 engines, we believe that programs such as this not only benefit companies such as Pratt & Whitney, but also the many manufacturing businesses in our supply chain who depend on a highly-skilled workforce to remain competitive globally in the 21st century.”

More information is available here.

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