The state has granted pre-apprenticeship status to a workforce development program Sikorsky Aircraft runs in conjunction with Teamsters Local 1150.

For 18 years, Stratford-based Sikorsky has partnered with the Teamsters Local in the Career Pathways Union Mentoring Program, exposing students to hands-on learning, manufacturing skills, and jobs.

Teamsters/Sikorsky Career Pathways Program, aircraft manufacturing pre-apprenticeship
Student Vanessa Maldonado worked with Mia Bridgeforth and other mentors for eight weeks as part of Sikorsky's pre-apprenticeship program.

Now, Sikorsky and the Teamsters can help these students enter the workforce.

The state education and labor departments announced the program's newly registered Aircraft Manufacturing pre-apprenticeship at an Aug. 8 ceremony at Sikorsky where 50 students were feted.

The students received critical trade skills working on major products, including the CH-53K helicopter, Black Hawk, and Combat Rescue helicopter.

The program began in 2002 and has trained 300 students across multiple trade disciplines.

'Jump Start'

"Advanced manufacturing and the aircraft and aerospace industries are booming right now in Connecticut," said state Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby.

"This program not only gives students a jump start on a great career but is a critical link in preparing our workforce to meet the needs of manufacturers that are creating much-needed economic growth in our state."

"Advanced manufacturing and the aircraft and aerospace industries are booming right now in Connecticut."

State Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby

The transition to a certified pre-apprenticeship is a logical step for the program, said Rocco Calo of Local 1150.

"Not only will it help us to recruit those students who are looking for industry recognized credentials, but it helps to bolster U.S. manufacturing by preparing these students to work in any aerospace facility," Calo said.

Talent Pipeline

Students who complete the program typically have about 600 hours of experience, Calo said.

But with the pre-apprenticeship status, students can now apply those hours as apprenticeship credits at any company in the aerospace industry with an apprenticeship program, he said.

Students can now apply those hours as credits at any company in the aerospace industry with an apprenticeship program.

"This pre-apprenticeship helps support Lockheed Martin's commitment to create 8,000 new apprenticeship and workforce positions within the company through 2023," said George Mitchell, vice president of production operations for Sikorsky.

"These students serve as a cornerstone of our talent pipeline and success of our workforce, as they help us fill advanced manufacturing occupations."