Guidance Counselors Go to School on Manufacturing
Workshop helps dispel myths about one of Connecticut’s key economic sectors
By Mary deManbey
You would think that with today’s manufacturers offering lucrative and rewarding jobs in a variety of settings for those with technical and professional skills, job candidates fresh out of school would be beating a path to their doors. But the truth is, manufacturers aren’t finding enough candidates with the skills they need.
So, why aren’t our talented young people seeking careers in manufacturing?
The College of Technology’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (COT-RCNGM) and CBIA are trying to change matters through a series of innovative workshops introducing high school guidance counselors to manufacturing.
“We believe it’s critical for guidance counselors, as frontline educators directing our young people, to have a greater understanding of and appreciation for careers in manufacturing,” says Dr. Karen Wosczyna-Birch, executive director of the COT-RCNGM.
High schools usually steer students toward four-year degree programs and away from manufacturing. Convincing guidance counselors of the value of careers in today’s manufacturing could be the key to unlocking new options for students.
A Clear Vision of Today’s Manufacturing
At a recent CBIA-organized workshop at Middlesex Community College, 15 counselors from six high schools heard from several manufacturers and learned about the manufacturing and engineering programs offered at the college, as well as a unique career pathway offered by Connecticut’s community colleges through the College of Technology.
Workshop presenter Bruce Dworak, president of Hobson & Motzer, says his company “is very concerned about our next generation of workers. Being able to address our needs with these counselors was an important step toward bridging the gap between what students are hearing about manufacturing and what it’s really all about.”
In fact, the workshops are helpful in dispelling myths about manufacturing, says Wosczyna-Birch: including misconceptions that jobs are boring and offer little reward.
“We want to make sure that these counselors have a clear vision of what manufacturing is today so that they can inspire their students to pursue these careers,” she said.
According to Hubert Godin, head of the manufacturing technology department at Middlesex Community College, the workshop also promoted the college’s growing
“I think it really made a difference when a couple of my former and current students spoke about their experiences in manufacturing,” said Godin. “I believe it opened up the counselors’ minds to the fact that there is a place for students who may not want to pursue a four-year degree or may prefer to work with their hands in a field that can offer them a lot of satisfaction.”
The COT-RCNGM is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Center of Excellence and is funded by the NSF. CBIA is the COT-RCNGM’s business partner. Through the COT-RCNGM, CBIA has conducted student expos, teacher workshops, and internships. If your company would like to get involved, please contact email@example.com.
Visit CBIA’s Education Foundation.
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