Central Mass. manufacturers pay employees to get training and degrees

In the spring of 2018, Walmart made national headlines when the retailer said it would pay for employees to obtain business degrees. These types of tuition assistance and educational reimbursement programs have become in vogue thanks to high-profile businesses like Amazon and Starbucks wanting to improve the quality of their workers’ training.

This, of course, isn’t news to the manufacturing industry, which has pioneered on-the-job training and educational assistance in order to keep good workers at their companies, advancing up the ladder as their skillsets grow. In Central Massachusetts, the Mass Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP) has allowed manufacturers to embrace new markets and upgrade the skills of incumbent workers.

All of our client companies are essentially paying for advanced learning for their employees, since they are employed at the company and the company pays for the training. We provide certificates for our training that can then be used by the employees as part of their ISO training requirements, job advancement, etc.
Kathie Mahoney

Marketing and Administration Director, MassMEP

Taking a lean management approach allows manufacturers to place greater emphasis on growth and efficiency.

As companies transition to smart manufacturing, many have taken to reaching out to educational institutions regarding curriculum adjustments designed to meet specific needs.

Educational institutions and manufacturers are learning to work together on the local and regional level to create new programs. Mahoney cites the collaboration between Quinsigamond Community College and Shrewsbury manufacturing Metso Flow Control, calling it a model program. QCC’s faculty was able to put together an impactful curriculum based on input from the partnership.

Since starting at Metso in 2005, Emmanuel Gomez has been promoted from lab technician to supervisor of application engineers.


Metso Flow Control
Makes: Valves
Employees: 450
Employee education programs: Tuition reimbursement, co-op/internship program, and onsite training

Innovative manufacturers like Metso are exemplars for others looking to empower employees through education. Metso has taken on co-ops from both Worcester Technical High School and QCC for over a decade.

Incentives for old & new employees

“They typically continue to get their degree and work here,” said Human Resources Manager Cara Dunbar. Metso reimburses tuition up to $5,250. “In addition, the Valve Technology Center is a feeder to other engineering departments in our organization.”

John Kennedy is the manager of the VTC. “This public-private partnership has allowed us to grow our workforce into a highly trained world-class research and development team here at Metso in Shrewsbury,” he said.

Many manufacturers have some type of incentive for the new employees they hire, but they are finding older employees want to take advantage of these opportunities to advance their skills as well. Many workers entering the next stage of their manufacturing careers find a need for training in industry leadership, supervisory skills and management. 

“This public-private partner-ship has allowed us to grow our workforce into a highly trained world-class research and development team here at Metso in Shrewsbury.”

— John Kennedy, manager of the Valve Technology Center, Metso Flow Control, Shrewsbury

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce is doing its part to ensure a new generation of manufacturing professionals will be at the ready when the workforce turns over. A summer initiative in partnership with Worcester Technical High School resulted in a four-week intensive free training for 14 individuals interested in entering the manufacturing field.

The program kicked off with a week in a classroom setting with the Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board where participants learned about professionalism, soft skills, career readiness and the interview process.

“The most important thing is building their confidence,” said Karen Pelletier, vice president of operations and director of education and workforce development for the Worcester chamber.

Candid discussions

Subsequent weeks brought the cohort to Worcester Technical High School’s manufacturing shop where they earned two credentials including NC3 (measuring and reading blueprints) and OSHA 10 (workplace safety.

“The most important thing is building their confidence.”

— Karen Pelletier, vice president of operations and director of education and workforce development for the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce

Participants heard from sponsors including IPG Photonics Abbvie, Saint Gobain, Primetals Technologies, David Clark, and Rand-Whitney. These employers engaged in a candid discussion about what they look for in candidates, future opportunities, and what it takes to be successful in manufacturing. All of the employers attended graduation at the end of the program.