Program Aims to Increase Opportunities for Populations Underrepresented in the Manufacturing Industry, Including Women
With Funding from Bank of America, Upskilling and Job Placement Opportunities Now Available.
The Housatonic Community College (HCC) Foundation was recently awarded a $15,000 grant from Bank of America to help support the community college’s Advanced Manufacturing Program, which trains and helps place women in manufacturing jobs.
Recognizing that the manufacturing industry has a low percentage of women in its workforce, Bank of America, in cooperation with the Housatonic Community College Foundation, renewed its support for a third year in a row, providing scholarship funding for women interested in this sector. Low-income, displaced workers will also be supported through this grant.
In the U.S., nearly $6 of every $10 export dollars come from manufacturers. At home in Connecticut, manufacturing is a key driver of the state’s economy, accounting for over 11% of total output, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. However, while women make up roughly half of the working population across the country, men have historically held the majority of jobs in the manufacturing industry.
“Bank of America is committed to supporting initiatives that drive economic opportunity for historically underserved populations, including women, those in low- to moderate-income communities and displaced workers, especially as we look to rebuild the state’s workforce,” said Bill Tommins, President, Bank of America Southern Connecticut. “As an original supporter of this initiative, our partnership with Housatonic Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Program helps sets participants on a path to improve their financial lives and create sustainable careers, benefitting not only the individuals but their families and our state as a whole.”
HCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center is a key driver in fueling the state’s next generation of workers. The program provides students with state-of-the-art practical knowledge and the hands-on experience that manufacturing businesses require. Students receive help with finding internships and apprenticeship programs for additional experience, and jobs after graduation. The rigorous program yielded an 88% completion rate for the 2021 graduating class, of which nearly 90% are expected to have a full-time position by the end of summer.
Skyler Curcio, of Derby, graduated from the program this year, having started her manufacturing training in high school with HCC’s College Connections program after her woodworking professor recognized her talent. Today Skyler is working in an apprenticeship program at Bigelow Tea, where she’s learning to become a mechanic. A partnership between HCC and The Workplace helped Skyler to secure the position prior to graduation, and funding from Bank of America this past year supported her education at HCC.
“I’m super happy at Bigelow and there’s a lot of room for growth. There are a lot of women on the floor there, it’s nice to see. After my apprenticeship is over, I hope to stay there and further my career,” said Curcio.
To date, Housatonic’s Advanced Manufacturing Program has graduated hundreds of students, creating a direct career path to gainful employment in the manufacturing industry. Employers rely upon this pipeline, because right now, thousands of well-paying manufacturing jobs are available in Connecticut, but there is a shortfall in trained workers.
“We are grateful to Bank of America for their renewed investment in our students who have the passion, motivation and desire to successfully complete our Manufacturing program at HCC. This program empowers women and other hard-working students and is a springboard to their lucrative careers in the manufacturing industry,” said Kristy Jelenik, Executive Director of the Housatonic Community College Foundation.