Connecticut manufacturers have said they are struggling to find skilled labor both for a growing number of existing positions and to replenish a workforce from which baby boomers are retiring at a rapid pace. In Connecticut there is currently no direct pipeline for many potential job-seekers, and in particular, women filtering into manufacturing internships and/or apprenticeships.
Since 2015, the Advanced Manufacturing Employer Partnership (AMEP), funded through the Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford, has offered a comprehensive education and workforce development system designed to advance the employability of low-income, low-skill workers in the high-demand manufacturing sector. The Partnership includes the Manufacturing Careers Program, led by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT), administered in partnership with Capital Workforce Partners (CWP), and working closely with the Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) and manufacturing training entities.
The Manufacturing Careers Program was designed to address this gap in the coordination of paid internships and on-the-job training opportunities with the Connecticut Department of Labor in order to meet the future workforce needs of manufacturers and provide necessary income for job-seekers interested in manufacturing. To date, women represent just 10 percent of the Manufacturing Career Program's participants. Members of the Catalyst Endowment Fund at the Hartford Foundation have awarded $50,000 to the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc., to expand programs to address the underrepresentation of young women in entry-level manufacturing jobs.
"Our efforts focus on developing awareness, engagement, and skills to support the manufacturing workforce pipeline," Susan Palisano, CCAT's director of education and workforce development, told the more than 80 Catalyst members in attendance. "In Connecticut, not only is there no direct pipeline to fill entry level manufacturing positions, but manufacturers have been unable to effectively engage women. This persistent underrepresentation of women in manufacturing is contributing to the skills gap."
CCAT will use the Catalyst funds to grow the Manufacturing Careers Program and fund the pilot "Pre-Apprentice Manufacturing Careers Program." They will coordinate a series of "Women in Manufacturing" events in partnership with area organizations that serve young women, including Catholic Charities, the YWCA, The Urban League, Our Piece of the Pie, and The Village for Families and Children. CCAT will recruit and assess 50 young women, with a goal of placing 35 women following six weeks of work-based training and learning in basic skills, machine operations – including hands-on experience – and the "soft skills" needed to grow at work. The program connects participants with paid internships and pre-screens applicants based on criteria identified by participating employers. Wages during the internships and pre-apprentice program will likely range from $11 to $19 per hour.
CCAT was one of five organizations that presented to Catalyst members during the grant-making meeting on October 17. Each organization's proposal addressed the 2017 topic, Family Economic Security: Career Pathways, which members studied throughout the year before sending out requests for proposals to area organizations. Each year, Catalyst Endowment Fund members choose a topic affecting the community and invite local experts to educate Fund members. Area nonprofits are then invited to submit grant proposals that address the topic, and members of the giving circle analyze the proposals and award grants over the course of a year.
Since the Catalyst Endowment Fund was established 25 years ago, grants totaling more than $950,000 have been awarded in support of nonprofit programs in areas such as health, housing, workforce development and education. The Hartford Foundation pools and invests donations from members to fund grants based on program areas selected by the membership. Funds like Catalyst, also known as 'giving circles,' provide individuals with an opportunity to be involved with philanthropy while providing greater impact through the pooled contributions. For more information on the Catalyst Endowment Fund, contact Betty Ann Grady at email@example.com or 860-548-1888 x1055.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrated ninety years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of more than $680 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.