With about 1,000 advanced-manufacturing jobs available in a state suffering from high unemployment, something’s got to be done to close that gap—for the sake of Connecticut’s economy and for our young people seeking careers with long-term potential.

One way is to give students a real-world, close-up look at potential careers—like the award-winning ACE Mentor Program that’s focusing on the building trades industry. Mentoring, internships and apprenticeships are some of the most valuable experiences young people can have to envision their futures.

CBIA has collaborated with ACE, a Stamford-based nonprofit that is one of eight recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

ACE chairman and founder Charles Thornton, Ph.D. was at the White House on Monday night to receive the award.

As this Stamford Advocate profile says,

“Typically, three to five mentors meet with 15 to 20 students once a week for two hours, working on a project for 15 weeks or more… They learn about different facets of the industry from architects, landscape architects, construction managers and engineers.”

Break barriers

This year, state lawmakers have some work to do to make more of those experiences possible for students who might thrive in high-tech manufacturing careers.

Specifically, lawmakers should modify state statutes to allow 16-to 18- year-old students access to manufacturing facilities for internships, job shadowing, plant tours, and similar educational experiences.

Especially now, we must erase any barriers preventing a new pool of skilled workers from gaining great careers and helping Connecticut’s economy grow.