It is becoming increasingly clear that Connecticut faces a daunting challenge over the next two decades: recruiting and training the thousands of skilled workers needed by major manufacturers and their suppliers in the state.
Without this workforce, the state’s manufacturing industry and its economy as a whole will fail to achieve the future of growth that exists for them.
The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) have historically played an essential role in supporting individual career and corporate growth for decades. We are proud to have played this role at both the workforce and leadership levels, but know we must approach our efforts with increased energy and focus going forward if we are to achieve our educational objectives and deliver on our mission to produce highly trained, educated, career-ready citizens.
We are also keenly aware that we must keep quality higher education within reach, maintaining affordability and accessibility for all who choose to attend our institutions. This is equally true at our four comprehensive universities (Central, Southern, Eastern and Western); at our 12 community colleges (Asnuntuck, Capital, Gateway, Housatonic, Manchester, Middlesex, Naugatuck Valley, Northwestern Connecticut, Norwalk, Quinebaug Valley, Three Rivers, and Tunxis); and at CSCU’s online college, Charter Oak State.
Nine of Connecticut’s community colleges have grown to become vital components of the effort to produce the manufacturing workforce. The advanced-manufacturing programs and courses offered at these campuses provide students with a strong foundation for their careers at all stages of their lives, whether they are recent high school graduates, adult students, or returning veterans. In addition, through our College Connections program, high school juniors and seniors receive college credit while in high school, sharing classes and labs in advanced-manufacturing courses and programs with their college-age peers.
Over the next 10 years, Connecticut advanced manufacturers in the aerospace, defense, biomedical and other industry sectors, along with their suppliers, will need as many as 25,000 career-ready skilled workers. CSCU is committed to providing a pipeline to those workers, fueling the renaissance in manufacturing, and putting Connecticut’s citizens on paths to great careers.
Mark E. Ojakian