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Manufacturing Training in Southeastern Massachusetts

By Chuck Coakley, Project Manager, MassMEP

MassMEP and the Southeastern Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (SMAMC) continue to help manufacturing businesses in Massachusetts improve the training levels of their employees in a unique way. Employees have raised their hands to volunteer for training in basic manufacturing skills at Bristol Community College in Fall River, MA.

The partnership between Bristol Community College and MassMEP utilizes a Massachusetts Technology Collaborative grant to raise the manufacturing skill levels for working people in Southeastern Mass. During 1H17, we plan to include unemployed workers in the same training program with input and direction from our Workforce Investment Board teams.

The Southeastern Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Consortium originally began around 2013 when the Commonwealth of Mass funded a sizeable grant to help develop a regional manufacturing training infrastructure. The organization includes a diverse group of manufacturing companies located within the region.

The concept was to create a shared training opportunity so that smaller companies with less than 50 employees could take advantage of educational opportunities with larger companies through a combined resource. Today, that combined resource is MassMEP and Bristol Community College.

SMAMC completed Phase #1, Sections #1, #2, and #3, of Training on March 1, 2017. We partnered with Bristol Community College to utilize a solid academic curriculum to attract and retain manufacturing jobs in small to large companies in Massachusetts.

In addition, SMAMC completed incumbent (employed worker) training for 250+ employees from 21 different manufacturers. Training classes in both Phase #1, Sections #1 and #2 covered Shop Math, Metrology, Blueprint Reading, GD&T, 5S, and Lean Principles. In Phase #3, we included an Effective Communication and Problem Solving course that is a three-day class. The interest in this class was so positive, we registered 30 employed workers for the class and we still had a dozen on a waiting list.

Pipeline Training
Planning for the next step in our training grant will be for pipeline candidates - people interested in getting a job in manufacturing. This training will cover the six classes mentioned above plus CNC Milling Concepts, CNC Lathe Concepts, Introduction to Programming, Workforce Readiness, and Safety. This training prepares the individual for an entry-level machine operator position.  Past experience with this training has yielded excellent results with several local manufacturing companies being very pleased with the new hires coming out of this program.

We expect this pipeline training will begin 2Q17. This Massachusetts Technology Collaborative  grant of $200,000 was sponsored by a number local  legislators led by  Massachusetts State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues. All of the five regional Workforce Investment Boards, regional business leaders, Bristol Community College, and Mass MEP have collaborated to implement this innovative program.

The value of this training is leveraged by the profile of training participants work experience.  Students, instructors, and employers agree that training done in a consortia environment develops a unique realization that although businesses are different their challenges are similar.

Feedback from the students and participating companies has been very positive. We have taken comments and suggestions for improvements in course material under advisement and we continue to edit course material to best suit our candidates.

Graduation
Upon completion of each class, the student earns a certificate of completion from Bristol Community College for that subject matter (e.g., Shop Math, Metrology, etc.). Students have been excited and enthusiastic about their training because they feel they are taking advantage of an opportunity to learn, get ahead, and improve their job skills.

The SMAMC Training Initiative has been well received. The region's Work Force Investment Board (WIB), regional manufacturing companies, Bristol Community College, and MassMEP have reinforced the value to continue these training efforts. The program is a testimony to the synergistic effect of regional constituencies combining their resources to develop a regional manufacturing infrastructure.

The 2017 schedule for Incumbent and Pipeline Training programs funded by this resource are in progress and schedules are planned.

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