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Courtney, Blumenthal, Murphy Highlighted ‘Manufacturing Pipeline’ During Roundtable Discussion at Grasso Tech and Joined Ribbon Cutting For New Welding Shop

June 3, 2016
Press Release
The workforce training program was the recipient of a $6 million dollar federal grant last year to train or retrain employees for high-tech manufacturing careers. Many of the graduates are expected to join the workforce at Electric Boat or one of the hundreds of parts suppliers supporting the shipyard.

NORWICH, C.T. – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D – Conn.), and Senator Chris Murphy (D – Conn.) participated in a roundtable discussion at Grasso Technical High School in Groton to highlight the need for a well-trained manufacturing workforce, the importance of working together to secure future funding, and maintaining institutions to meet workforce needs. Welcoming remarks for the roundtable discussion were delivered by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman. The congressional delegation members then joined the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Grasso Technical High School welding shop, which through a partnership provides hands-on training to students to prepare them for the workforce demands in the region.

“The roundtable at Grasso Tech this morning was a great opportunity to once again get all of the key stakeholders for the manufacturing pipeline into one place,” said the delegation members. “The discussion was focused on how we build upon the success of the first graduating class in order to make sure that we are training enough skilled workers to meet the growing need in high-tech manufacturing. With work at Electric Boat quickly ramping up, we need to be doing  everything we can to prepare Connecticut workers to fill new positions at the shipyard and across the state-wide network of suppliers.”

Grasso Technical High School is one of the locations used for the ‘manufacturing pipeline’ workforce training program which is run by the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB) in conjunction with Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson, and Three Rivers Community College in Norwich.  The pipeline will train workers for advanced manufacturing careers at Electric Boat and other high-tech manufacturing firms across the state. The EWIB created the manufacturing pipeline program after receiving a $6 million dollar federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in 2015 following a visit from Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. During the visit, Secretary Perez learned about the expanding workforce needs at Electric Boat and within the network of nearly 500 parts suppliers and small firms that support work at the shipyard.

During the roundtable discussion, leaders heard from Monica Bonner, 29, from New London who was a part of the first graduating class of the manufacturing pipeline program located at Grasso Technical High School. Bonner recently relocated from Arizona to Connecticut, and wanted to begin a new career after previously working as a truck driver, home health care aide, and in retail. She spoke about the benefits of this program for people who are looking to transition into a second, well-paying career in manufacturing.

Higher-resolution pictures available here

Other participants included:

Opening remarks were delivered Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman

General Dynamics/Electric Boat Division

Maura Dunn, VP of Human Resources 

Debra Gaynor, Chief of Human Resources

Courtney Murphy, Human Resource Manager

Eastern Workforce Investment Board

John Beauregard, Executive Director

Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance (EAMA)

Kelli Vallieres, President/CEO, Sound Manufacturing 

Ray Coombs, Jr., President, Westminster Tool

Chris Jewell, CFO, Collins & Jewell Co, Inc

Three Rivers Community College

Mary Ellen Jukoski, President   

Ana A. Gonzales, Program Coordinator Workforce and Community Education

Bret Jacobson, Three Rivers Lead Instructor of Outside Machinists Training (OSM) at Grasso Tech   

Quinebaug Valley Community College

Stephen LaPointe, Direct of the Manufacturing Technology Center  

Connecticut Technical High School System 

Dr. Nivea L. Torres, Superintendent of Schools

Ellis Tech

Dr. Brian Mignault, Principal of Ellis Technical High School

Grasso Tech

Patricia Feeney, Principal of Grasso

Windham Technical High School

Mark Ambruso, Principal of Windham Technical High School

Pipeline Graduate

Monica Bonner