SPECIAL TO THE HERALD
BERLIN - New businesses in town are looking for recent graduates who like to take things apart and put them back together.
With construction and commercial development on the rise in Berlin, high-tech manufacturers and service companies want to recruit professional, career-minded workers.
Town business leaders are helping to connect Berlin High School students with the business community through Junior Achievement and by offering job-shadowing days and tours.
Comcast takes part in this effort every year.
Beginning in September and into 2018, Berlin Economic Development Director Chris Edge promises that businesses in town will “create even more opportunities for students to experience different companies that call Berlin home.” He is partnering with Patty Pires, school counseling supervisor at Berlin High School and Jeremy Race, chief operating officer of Junior Achievement of Southwest New England.
Edge notes that an advisory board for the technology education department at Berlin High School has been created, made up of representatives from the manufacturing, automotive and construction/contracting industries. The board will advise teachers on curriculum, help determine tools and machines needed to teach today’s students and advocate on behalf of funding and informing the business community on the importance of technical education. Firms interested in discussing the groundwork for students in the school’s technical education program are welcome.
“The partnership between Berlin High School and the business community is a key facet to the long-term success and growth of our town,” says Berlin Mayor Mark Kaczynski. “Berlin High graduates beginning their careers here will keep resources local and help everyone.”
In May, Edge and local business professionals met with BHS 11th-graders on the changing face of industry. The presentation stressed the necessity of focusing on a career, rather than simply landing a job.
Edge points out that the traditional route after college for many graduates has been technology, media, insurance, banking, health insurance and local or state government. But, businesses in these sectors - locally, ESPN and The Hartford - are losing jobs through mergers, closings and downsizings. State and local governments are experiencing budget crunches.
According to Edge, the future workforce will be found in industries in which knowledge base makes a location like Berlin an asset. These industries are aerospace, engineering/technical, information technology, medical industries/services, professional services and business services.
Berlin High School Principal Fran Kennedy says that in today’s competitive, fast-paced, ever-changing technological employment landscape, “it is more important to be certain that our students are afforded real world opportunities outside of the Berlin High School building. Partnerships with the business community will allow us to extend our students’ skill acquisition beyond the written curriculum. (Having) authentic experiences will not only inform their learning, but also create fertile ground for career possibilities within and beyond our town.”
Tim Cote, an engineer at Berlin Steel and a Berlin High School graduate, says his company’s construction projects include the UConn Medical Center, the Connecticut Science Center and Fenway Residence Inn in Boston. Berlin Steel employees range from metal workers to engineers and planners, “but all of them need to be able to think on their feet.”
Michael Lane, vice president of 568Systems, says his firm specializes in the design, installation and service of structured wire cable systems that support telecommunications networks. 568Systems provides cable system design and installation services for leading public and private organizations in health care, manufacturing, finance, education, R&D, technology, retail and construction.
“At 568Systems we look for people willing to learn, have a strong work ethic and are problem solvers,” he says.
Jennifer Lubbe, human resources generalist at Okay Industries, describes Okay as “a leading medical manufacturing company with unsurpassed expertise in stamping and machining a wide range of metals. These include stainless steels, implantable titanium and nitinol.”
Okay also specializes in medical, automotive, defense/firearms, industrial markets, and engineering components.
Okay’s Berlin location serves as a technology center, yet it lacks enough workers to meet its growing needs. Okay has openings for finishing and assembly operators, CNC machining operators, set-up/programmers, quality assurance inspectors/engineers, toolmakers, engineers, and specialists in mechanical/die design/automation. The company also has maintenance, finance and administrative jobs available.
Joshua Berger, director of product development for The Music People, says his company provides customers access to virtually every major line of pro-audio product, and On-Stage. The latter is a brand designed and manufactured by The Music People with help from musicians and production professionals. The company carries thousands of products from more than 170 pro-audio brands in the industry, Though Berger earned a two-year degree in an occupational field that no longer exists, he says his love of music and creativity gave him an opportunity to do something he loves.
Edge boasts that Berlin has a diverse business base with more than 400 firms, including major employers such as Eversource, Comcast, TOMZ (medical manufacturing), Assa Abloy (hardware manufacturing), Premier Limousine, Euro-American Home Care, and TIGHITCO (aerospace manufacturing).
“These companies want to educate a future workforce about the work they do and the career opportunities they offer,” Edge says. “Local firms have made major investments in buildings and equipment, resulting in careers for families and increased area home sales. Here in Berlin you can create a career among companies with diverse skill sets in blue collar, white collar and entry-level up to high-end engineering and high-level corporate positions.”