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Greenfield Community College

Training program to fill gaps for entry-level skills

Will help with math skills, cover letters, workplace professionalism

GREENFIELD — A new training program will equip unemployed and underemployed residents with manufacturing and work readiness skills so they can fill open entry-level jobs at local companies.

Greenfield Community College and partner organizations will train at least 40 people in free 80-hour “foundational mechanical” training programs this year. The college is using a $69,617 grant from the state’s Department of Higher Education to develop and promote the program, pay for instructors and provide these students and 60 others with online subscriptions to manufacturing tutorials.

Students will learn about manufacturing-specific uses of math and measurement tools and learn how to use materials efficiently, said GCC Workforce Development Director Alyce Stiles. They’ll participate in an Occupational Safety and Health Administration certification program and receive work-readiness training on topics like resumes, cover letters and professionalism in the workplace.

It’s designed to both train people directly for jobs — in careers like production workers, assembly technicians, shipping and receive clerks — at businesses that include grant partners Bete Fog Nozzle, Hillside Plastics and New England Natural Bakers. Some of those jobs have yearly wages between $21,000 and $28,000, said Stiles.

The training may also serve as a stepping stone for some into the region’s advanced manufacturing program, which, like this program, was designed to jumpstart an industry with an aging workforce and a limited supply of qualified applicants.

Partners in that project — GCC, Franklin County Technical School, the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board and local companies — are currently training a second group of students, over the course of 220 hours, to boost computer-aided manufacturing skills. Companies said the size of their workforce, and lack of qualified applicants, was limiting their ability to grow.

The time and place for the 80-hour foundational manufacturing training programs is still being determined. GCC plans to work with organizations like The Literacy Project and Center for New Americans to connect with students who are learning English as a second language, said Stiles.

The 40 students who go through the training sessions — one will start in the next few months, another during the summer — will have access to a subscription of “Tooling U,” online software that has thousands of manufacturing tutorials. An additional 60 will also receive subscriptions, said Stiles.

The pilot program, which covers the 100 total students, will let organizers determine how best to run and fund the program going forward, she said.

The grant was one of many projects, totaling $450,000, awarded as a part of the state’s Rapid Response Incentive Program. GCC won a grant last year to provide additional health care training for workers who take care of elders.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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