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CCRI to offer free manufacturing ‘boot camp’
Warwick, R.I. – May 5, 2014: As the manufacturing industry reshores stateside with high-wage, high-skilled jobs, the Community College of Rhode Island is joining forces with local industry partners this summer to offer a free pilot program to help Rhode Islanders discover the possibilities recent changes to the industry have afforded.
Polaris MEP (formerly RIMES), through the Manufacturing Industry Partnership Grant received from the Governor's Workforce Board, will sponsor the seven-week "boot camp" course, which will be open to 16 students each in two sessions starting May 19 and July 7. The boot camp will require classes three nights a week. This program is also sponsored in part by a U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration TAACCCT grant.
Jerry Bernardini, chairman of the Engineering and Technology Department at CCRI, said the course will introduce students to the skills necessary for the manufacturing industry's modern incarnation, which represents a switch from traditional machining to computer numerical controlled (CNC) operations, whereby components are designed and machines are controlled via computers rather than manual operations.
At the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, the college introduced two new certificate programs to help students acquire the skills needed to thrive in the CNC environments. Bernardini said the college plans to integrate the course into its regular offerings starting this fall. Students have the option of electing to be graded for their work in the summer course; when the course becomes official, that grade can be counted for credit on their transcript.
He said the course has two intended audiences: Unemployed adults and undecided students can use the introductory course as a litmus test for their interest and abilities, while manufacturing companies can send potential apprenticeship candidates to the course to screen them to determine whether they would make a good investment for the company.
After completing the "boot camp," a potential next step to take would be the nontraditional registered CNC machinist apprenticeship program that is under development.
Ruth Gobeille, communications manager for Polaris MEP, said this development represents an exciting opportunity for workers to receive formalized training through both on-the-job and educational requirements.
"Apprenticeship programs provide a credibility for the job seeker. It presents milestones of achievement, giving the apprentice hands-on career training as well as an education, she said. "This is especially important for young people looking for a career after getting out of high school who want to achieve not only a degree, but to be fully trained for a lucrative career without the debt of student loans."
Bernardini emphasized Gobeille's point that the manufacturing jobs of today represent desirable, highly skilled careers for those who wanted to put in the effort.
"The biggest problem we have right now is the image that manufacturing has, particularly with the parent generation. They see it as not a very attractive career. But the truth is, manufacturing today is high tech, it's clean; the safety practices are paramount," he said.
Gobeille praised Bernardini and his colleagues, including Dean of Business, Science and Technology Peter Woodberry, for designing a curriculum that was directly built upon the needs of area manufacturing companies.
"From the time we did our skills gap analysis, CCRI has been right there working alongside us to be responsive to the needs of the manufacturing community," she said.
For "boot camp" registration information, visit www.ccri.edu/cwce/registration or call 401-333-7070.
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