Tim Simmons found out that he was losing his job when RR Donnelly confirmed it was closing its Danbury plant earlier this year. Simmons had worked there for 30 years. During that time, the company had been bought out and downsized multiple times.
When he first started, Simmons’ job consisted of high-quality graphic design and desktop publishing pieces. As the plant gradually began to outsource this work, however, these skills became unnecessary for his work and were eventually abandoned over time.
“At this point, I’m ready for a career change,” said Simmons, a Waterbury resident. “If I wanted to stay in this line of business I’d need to completely update my skills. It’s just not the thriving industry it once was in Connecticut.”
Simmons decided it was time to move into a more high-demand career field and began putting his feelers out. During a conversation with one of his son’s instructors at Kaynor Technical High School, he was advised to check out the Manufacturing Open Houses being held at NVCC. Simmons and co-worker Randy Day, a Prospect resident and press man at RR Donnelly for 23 years, both took the trip on July 11 to hear about the new manufacturing certificates being offered and what they mean in terms of jobs.
In 2011, manufacturing was Connecticut’s fourth largest hiring sector with more than 22,000 job openings. Connecticut manufacturers currently employ more than 168,000 people.
Students who earn their one-year certificate in NVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Machine Technology Level II will be qualified to work in machine technology and CNC manufacturing environments. The certificate provides approximately 70% hands-on training, 30% theoretical classroom work, optional paid internships and job placement assistance. Upon completion, students can expect to earn approximately $31,000 per year.
While both agree it will be a big change, they are ready for the challenge. Both Simmons and Day plan to earn their certificates and continue onto a two- or four-year degree in manufacturing.
“I already have a bachelor’s degree,” said Day, who was encouraged by how quickly he could find himself back in the workforce. “I’ll go back for another one. I’m looking forward to a new start.”
Credits earned in the certificate can be rolled into an associate degree in manufacturing at NVCC or applied to the College of Technology's (COT) technology studies advanced manufacturing degree option, which offers seamless transfer to several four-year universities including Central Connecticut State University and the University of Hartford. Financial aid is available for qualified students. The program is Workforce Investment Act (WIA) approved and some students may qualify for assistance under the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP).
So far the program has enrolled men, women, students out of high school and people changing careers.
“It’s a really diverse group,” said Deirdre Moutinho, program advisor for the Advanced Manufacturing Center to the open house attendees. “It will be a great mix of young starters who can bring energy to the group and experienced workers who have a good handle on what’s expected in the workforce.”
Interested students can learn more about the program by attending an info session at Naugatuck Valley Community College at 10 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. in Technology Hall, Room T516 on:
- Tuesday, July 24
- Wednesday, August 1
- Wednesday, August 8
- Wednesday, August 15
The fall semester begins August 31.
The Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center is supported by area employers and the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board (WIB), Waterbury Regional Chamber, the Smaller Manufacturer’s Association, Waterbury public schools and the College of Technology.
“We are thrilled by this opportunity to address the skill shortage in advanced manufacturing,” said Cathy Awwad, director of the WIB. “The regions’ manufacturers have worked hand-in-hand with the College and the WIB to develop a program that will benefit the regions’ employers and employees alike and we look forward to the positive impact this will have. Coupled with the successful College Connections program, the new Waterbury Career Academy, and Kaynor Tech, this center stands as the lynchpin in the resurgence of manufacturing.”