NEW BRITAIN - Officials estimate that the Board of Education‚Äôs newest career academy at New Britain High School will need approximately $1 million in funding to complete the project and from $25,000 to $30,000 a year for maintenance.
Members of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce, Superintendent of Schools, Nancy Sarra, local manufacturers, nonprofit organizations and the Connecticut Department of Labor took part in an information session about the new Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology Training for the Future Academy - or MET - on Friday at Stanley World Headquarters.
Jason Howey, president of Okay Industries, gave a presentation about the academy, highlighting its mission, student benefits, program requirements, budget, and funding sources.
The estimated $1 million would be used mainly for manufacturing equipment such as milling machines, lathes, grinders, 3D printers and robotics. Part of the budget would be used for a designated space for the academy at New Britain High School, a salary and benefits for the program‚Äôs leader, promotion, and curriculum development.
The funding sources for the academy include area businesses, the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, the American Savings Foundation, the state Economic and Community Development Department and Department of Labor, Workforce Investment boards, the Precision Metalforming Association, the National Tooling and Machining Association and other foundations.
Many manufacturers in Connecticut say it‚Äôs challenging to find qualified workers, and that‚Äôs one of the reasons the MET Academy will be built.
‚ÄúI think that New Britain is an absolutely perfect place to launch this initiative,‚ÄĚ Howey said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs the hardware capital of the world. Manufacturing is in the blood. I love New Britain‚Äôs motto, ‚ÄėIndustry fills the hive and enjoys the honey.‚Äô There are many manufacturers that still call New Britain a home and obviously the surrounding towns and they all have the same challenges.‚ÄĚ
Another reason the MET Academy is being built is that there are more than 13,000 open manufacturing jobs in Connecticut.
The MET Academy‚Äôs program is expected to be more than 25 graduates a year with an increasing number of graduates per year. Other program outcomes include work-based learning, apprenticeships, and matriculation of college coursework at Central Connecticut State University and Asnuntuck and Tunxis community colleges.
Ashley Baron, vice president of human resources at Stanley Black & Decker, said she looks look forward to the success of this academy and Stanley Black & Decker‚Äôs participation in it. Baron said Stanley also lacks a strong talent pipeline.
‚ÄúThe skills required for the next generation of manufacturing are very different from the past,‚ÄĚ Baron said. ‚ÄúThese workers will need to be skilled in high tech machinery, software protocols and advanced technologies such as the industrial internet of things, additive manufacturing and collaborative robotics among others. We believe that future success comes from an ecosystem approach that unites the advance manufacturing community stakeholders. It includes governments, schools, industry partners, civic and community organizations.‚ÄĚ
Sarra said she is enthusiastic about the academy and is ready for it to create successful careers for the students who decide to enroll in its programs.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been living under the umbrella of college for all students for a very long time here in the state of Connecticut and probably nationwide,‚ÄĚ Sarra said. ‚ÄúWe need to stabilize ourselves in the middle and recognize that getting our students ready for career is something for every student. College may be for some, but careers must be for every student so that they can contribute to the well-being of our society.‚ÄĚ
The Board of Education will ensure that the New Britain High School academies follow the same structure and design, which is why the school began a partnership with the National Academy Foundation and has implemented the model, Sarra said.
The academy will provide students with various benefits, including an opportunity to experience not only the 120-hour internship but also a 2,000-hour pre-apprenticeship opportunity that is meant to benefit manufacturing companies as well as the students.
Alex Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Capital Workforce Partners, was also on board at the meeting.
‚ÄúWe at Capital Workforce Partners truly believe that in order to meet the demands of our workforce, we have to be very focused and cognitive about how we are helping our adults apply those necessary skills but equally important, how we are informing, instructing and preparing our young people so there‚Äô a seamless transition from school to work to careers to good jobs to better jobs and better American dreams,‚ÄĚ Johnson said. ‚ÄúI just wanted to be here on behalf of Capital Workforce Partners to support this effort, to support this community and ensure that the young people of our high schools are prepared and connected to good jobs to enable them to become self sufficient and contributing adults.‚ÄĚ
The academy will need the help and participation of the community with apprenticeship programs, an advisory board and funding for equipment.
Howey said the goal is to raise at least $500,000 by the summer to start putting equipment in the school.
Karla Santos can be reached at 860-801-5970 or firstname.lastname@example.org.