A growing demand for new skilled workers to meet the needs of a resurgent manufacturing industry –estimated at 25,000 to 35,000 positions for the state’s 4,100 manufacturing companies in the next two decades – is outpacing the supply, which has created an increasing need for instructors.
AARP Connecticut has taken a multifaceted intergenerational approach to tackle the thriving manufacturing industry:
- In collaboration with Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), private colleges, and high schools, AARP Connecticut is encouraging retirees with real-world knowledge to consider earning extra income through teaching the next generation of manufacturers.
- To support the age 50 and older with an interest in a manufacturing career, AARP Connecticut offers members a 25% tuition scholarship at Goodwin College and established a $10,000 scholarship fund for Connecticut residents age 50 and older enrolled in a manufacturing program offered by any of the state’s higher education institutions. AARP membership is not an eligibility requirement. More information about the Goodwin College offer for AARP members is at www.aarp.org/CTDiscounts.
- In an approach to assist in the development of youth exploring a career in manufacturing, AARP Connecticut contributed $1,000 to the Wallingford School District to support hiring retirees with manufacturing experience as professional mentors for teachers.
“It is important for our state to develop a pipeline of skilled workers and mentors to meet the immediate demand as well as the substantial projected need of the next few decades,” said Nora Duncan, state director, AARP Connecticut. “A booming manufacturing industry is an economic driver in Connecticut that creates jobs for new workers as well as opportunities for retirees to share their real-world experiences and can earn extra income in the process.”
Immediate and long-term opportunities exist throughout technical high school, community and state college systems, as well as Goodwin College. The entry points are such that a retiree could earn a little income by working a few hours a week or entirely re-career into a full-time position. No teaching experience or degree is required and professional development courses for manufacturing professionals looking to switch to college instruction are available.
Karen Wosczyna-Birch, executive director of the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing at Tunxis Community College in Farmington, said in a recent article that eight of Connecticut’s 12 community colleges offer advanced manufacturing certificate programs and “every one of them would be interested in hiring instructors.”
In addition to community colleges, Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) launched a three-day education-basics course for manufacturing professionals looking to switch to college instruction.
"We are extremely pleased with the level of commitment AARP Connecticut has demonstrated in building a unique collaborative that affords our Advanced Manufacturing Technology centers an opportunity to partner with AARP and those members who have or may be retiring from manufacturing careers,” said Richard DuPont, director of community & campus relations, Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Housatonic Community College. “As such, we are reaching those with the skills and experience we need in our training labs. This helps to assure that the skills we need to support manufacturing today and into the future are transferred effectively. Finally, this partnership is also helping raise the awareness of the thousands of manufacturing career opportunities there are in Connecticut, many that offer starting wages above $40,000 with nearly 100% placement from our programs. The AARP Connecticut scholarship only serves to further quantify our partnership"
AARP Connecticut and education officials hosted the first of several events to identify and recruit retired manufacturers who might consider applying their real world skills in the classroom in January at the Wallingford Board of Education. The next forum will be held at Tunxis Community College on June 13 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Those interested in attending can learn more and register at aarp.cvent.com/ManufactureTunxis.
"Being able to access and hire retired manufacturers has been an incredible opportunity for our district,” said Dr. Sal Menzo, superintendent of schools, Wallingford. “Teachers and students benefit from their knowledge and expertise. This partnership raises the bar for the course content we can provide students. We look forward to growing this opportunity in the year to come."
Connecticut state colleges and universities, private colleges, and the state’s comprehensive and technical high schools have done a great job of introducing the varied and high-tech career opportunities available to students in the manufacturing industry.
Real-life experience matters and can bring a value to the next generation of manufacturers that students cannot learn from books. This unique public-private partnership focuses on supporting retirees who have many years to give to the next generation. This effort supports Connecticut’s Advanced Manufacturing Strategic Plan and is a critical driver of our state’s economic future.