Local officials are partnering with regional employment agencies to offer evening manufacturing courses for adults at Watertown High School.

Candidates can get more information and sign up tonight at an open house at the high school from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The courses, which start in January, are open to residents of surrounding communities who are 18 or older.

The course is a collaboration of the town of Watertown, its board of education, and the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, which partners with businesses, career training providers, local governments, and human services agencies to provide job training and advancement services.

Watertown schools Superintendent Alison Villanueva, Town Manager Mark Raimo and Rich Dupont of Resource Development Associates, partnered in the summer to discuss Watertown’s participation in the Apprenticeship Connecticut Initiative, which “is focused on developing workforce pipeline programs that train qualified, entry-level workers to be placed in jobs with local and surrounding manufacturers and employers who are experiencing sustained workforce shortages,” Dupont said.

The course program is in line with the state Department of Economic and Community Development’s commitment to creating a stronger manufacturing workforce and roughly 3,000 new jobs in Connecticut, where there is a major shortage of skilled workers across industries.

Raimo, Villanueva, Dupont and partners from Naugatuck Valley Community College, local manufacturers and Northwest toured Watertown High over the summer and created a plan to offer the first eight-week program beginning next month.

Villanueva and Raimo called the partnership was a “win-win situation” because they said the Watertown community has several local manufacturing organizations in town.

Watertown Superintendent Alison Villanueva. Contributed/Watertown public schools
“There may be many manufacturers across the state dedicated to NRWIB’s vision to creating more jobs, but Watertown is home to two notable industrial parks that house major companies such as Braxton, Global Steering, Siemon, and more,” Raimo said. “It is a natural fit for Watertown to be the origin of a pipeline of skilled workers who will be able to fill these 3,000 jobs that are currently open locally and across the state.”

Watertown High School has a metals and wood shop fully intact in the building. The high school branched out to include a CAD lab in recent years, but still offers students experiences with traditional CNC mills, lathes, drill presses, and forges.

“Watertown Public Schools is proud to be able to offer members of the greater adult community opportunities to become highly skilled workers using the machines available at Watertown High School,” said Assistant Principal Tom Hogrefe, who is the school lead for this project.

Training programs include, but are not limited to, introduction to manufacturing, introduction to machinist, fundamentals of manufacturing technology, engineering drawing specifications, manufacturing process/precision machining.

After the first course, administrators will review options and consider how the same courses can be offered to Watertown High School students in their junior and senior year during the regular school day.

“If students can complete courses and earn a certificate or skill that will land them a paying job right after graduation, or advanced credits that can be put toward a post-secondary degree so they are a few steps ahead when they start college, we want to make those opportunities possible for students,” Villanueva said.

The program starts Tuesday, Jan. 18, with classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening at Watertown High School. Saturdays will be a full day of class at Naugatuck Valley Community College in the new shop facilities.

The entire program runs for eight weeks, and there is no cost or subsidized tuition dependent on candidates status.

Candidates can also register at nrwib.org/manufacturingyourfuture

Potential participants interested in learning more and/or applying for the program can contact Project Manager Kevin Canady at 203-574-6971 ext. 429 or via email [email protected].

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