Mount Wachusett Community College will oversee a $15.9 million, multi-state grant to provide accelerated training and credentials to students pursuing careers or job advancement in advanced manufacturing.

On Sept. 18, the U.S. Department of Labor announced 57 new grants totaling $475 million to community colleges and universities around the country for the development and expansion of innovative training programs in partnership with local employers. The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program, a multi-year, $2 billion initiative to expand targeted training programs for unemployed workers, especially those impacted by foreign trade.

Mount Wachusett joined Southwest Tennessee Community College, North Central State College in Ohio, and Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana to create the Advanced Manufacturing, Mechatronics, and Quality Consortium to help job seekers quickly obtain training and credentials in the advanced manufacturing fields of Mechatronics and Quality career pathways.

The consortium was awarded a total of $15,875,432. MWCC, the lead institution, partnered with the three colleges based upon similar economic development goals and interests in their regions. MWCC will receive $6,450,356 to provide accelerated training and credentialing programs in North Central Massachusetts that build upon manufacturing training initiatives implemented by MWCC through Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) funding received in 2011.

United States Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, and Congressman Jim McGovern applauded MWCC for securing a major grant from the Department of Labor.

“Massachusetts is a national leader in advanced manufacturing, and this grant will help train students for jobs in the 21st century innovation economy,” Senator Warren said. “I applaud MWCC for their efforts to secure this major grant and for being selected as the lead institution. This exciting initiative will help develop and strengthen partnerships between MWCC and employers in North Central Massachusetts.”

“Mount Wachusett Community College has been working to meet the training needs of manufacturing employers in Worcester County, and I commend MWCC for securing this funding that will prepare students to work in our vibrant innovation economy,” said Senator Markey. “This important grant will help manufacturing  businesses in surrounding areas increase their competitive edge by lowering their training costs for developing skilled employees.”

“Boosting American manufacturing and increasing educational opportunities are two of the most critical components to job growth and a healthy economic future. With this Department of Labor funding, Mount Wachusett will provide central Massachusetts with top-tier training and credential programs, sending positive ripple effects through our manufacturing companies and workforce,” Congresswoman Tsongas said. “This is yet another example of how Massachusetts and especially the Third District has become a national leader for cutting- edge technology innovation and development.”

“This major federal grant will enhance Mount Wachusett Community College’s role as a leader in developing pioneering job-training pathways for their students,” Congressman McGovern said. “I am a strong believer that we must invest in ensuring that our students of today are well trained for the careers of tomorrow. This grant, partnering Mount Wachusett with colleges around the country, will allow workers, veterans, and other students to secure work quicker, in more advanced positions.”

MWCC’s Division of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development and the college’s development office applied for the competitive grant earlier this year.

“We are delighted to be selected as the lead institution in this critical workforce initiative and in the confidence the Department of Labor has shown in our college and in the consortium to help reshape the workforce in our respective regions,” President Daniel M. Asquino said.

“Regional statistics show a need for skilled employees in advanced manufacturing, an industry that does form the backbone of our local economy,” said Jacqueline Belrose, Vice President of lifelong learning and workforce development. “This grant will enhance our ability to provide hands-on training, experience and credentials to hundreds of unemployed and incumbent workers in our region and put them on their way to high-paying jobs at local companies.”

Key local partners in the MWCC effort include Nypro, Inc., SMC, Ltd., Celltreat Scientific Products, Operon Resource Management, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation, the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce, the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce and the North Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board. Leominster Center for Technical Education Innovation, and Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School also will be involved in the partnership.

The Advanced Manufacturing, Mechatronics, and Quality Consortium will serve more than 1,720 TAA-eligible workers, veterans and other individuals in Ohio, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Tennessee. Each college brings a unique expertise in the mechatronics and quality fields that will be leveraged to create and implement stacked and latticed credentials that will be shared across all four colleges.

Mount Wachusett has expertise in quality and metrology; Bossier Parish Community College has expertise in process control mechatronics; North Central State College has expertise in electrical mechatronics, and Southwest Tennessee Community College has expertise in industrial mechatronics.

Together all four colleges will implement an entry level program that will include a common assessment process for assessing students’ advanced manufacturing aptitude using Standard Timing Model technology and Work Keys enabled tools and will align with the National Career Readiness Certificate that will be regionally adaptable to meet the unique needs of each region. The project’s intent is that all students will complete the training with the National Career Readiness Certificate and one or more industry-recognized certifications that can be stacked and latticed for greater skill attainment and employment flexibility.

Additionally, all colleges will align curriculum and offer a Certified Production Technician curriculum aligned with the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC). AMMQC will then develop and/or adapt intermediate and advanced stackable and latticed credentials using a Center of Excellence approach that uses the existing strength of each college to develop competency models and corresponding credentials that will be validated by industry and shared across all colleges. These stackable credentials will address the needs of employers for increased technical skills; they will be customized to each of the region’s needs so that the credits will articulate into credit-bearing programs at the colleges and among colleges.

The Manufacturing Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of Manufactures (NAM), will serve as the key partner in aligning the targeted stacked and latticed credentials developed and/or modified with industry recognized credentials. AMMQC will also develop a common system for awarding prior learning credit and using technology enhanced instruction that will accelerate time to completion.


Secretary Bialecki and President Asquino

Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki with MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino.

Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki and members of his team toured Nypro University on Dec. 11 to learn more about the unique academic and workforce training partnership between the Clinton-based manufacturer, MWCC and Fitchburg State University, as well as other economic initiatives in North Central Massachusetts.

Secretary Bialecki, Eric Nakajima, Senior Innovation Advisor with the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and Marybeth Campbell, Director of Education and Workforce Development with the Executive Offices of Education, Labor and Workforce Development and Housing and Economic Development, attended the tour.

Strengthening and accelerating the state’s economic recovery by supporting job creation in every region is a top priority of the Patrick-Murray Administration, and manufacturing remains a key component in the state’s goals for a 21st century innovation economy. “For Massachusetts to be prosperous, you absolutely have to think of manufacturing as a critical aspect,” Secretary Bialecki said.

The visit coincided with the monthly meeting of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce’s Manufacturing CEO Roundtable. Nypro President and CEO Ted Lapres, Angelo Sabatalo, Corporate Director of Organizational Development and Training for Nypro University, MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino; MWCC Vice President of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development Jacqueline Belrose; and David McKeehan, President and CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce were among the local education, business and community representatives who helped facilitate the tour.

The tour provided the state officials with an overview of several long-standing initiatives, including the partnerships between higher education and industry for certificate, associate degree and bachelor degree programs; the award of college credit for certification in master molding; new mechanical aptitude testing equipment recently purchased by MWCC and Nypro; and the use of state Workforce Training Fund grants for effective employee training programs.

Highlights of the training programs at Nypro include two college certificates, one offered by MWCC and one offered by Fitchburg State, which transfer into an associate degree in manufacturing from MWCC and can then be transferred into a bachelor’s degree in industrial maintenance at the university; a master molding certification training that applies five college credits to an advanced processing and robotics certificate at MWCC; skills assessments using mechanical aptitude testing machines developed by Scientific Management Techniques and recently acquired by MWCC and Nypro.

“It’s all about partnerships,” President Asquino said. “Over the past several years, the college has helped area businesses secure more than $3 million in Workforce Training Fund grants, working with area organizations and manufacturers on topics ranging from Lean to project management and leadership skills.”

Participants in the Manufacturing Day event at the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce included Jacqueline Belrose, Vice President of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development at MWCC, Jeremiah Riordon, the division's Associate Vice President; John Santoro, SMT trainer, and John Harden, Economic Development Specialist with the North Central Massachusetts Development Corp.

Mount Wachusett Community College is collaborating with the North Central Massachusetts Economic Development Council, the North Central Career Center, and area manufacturers to deliver customized industrial skills training designed to solve the industrial skills shortage affecting local industry. The program has been developed in cooperation with Scientific Management Techniques (SMT), Inc., the global leader in performance-based skill assessments for industry. SMT’s assessment capabilities, together with their demand-driven skills training programs, are used in manufacturing and education organizations in 31 countries to solve the skills shortage and drive industrial productivity.

In celebration of National Manufacturing Day on October 5 at the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce in Fitchburg, this new partnership and an existing partnership with Nypro were highlighted.
Peter Bachert, Manufacturing Applications Engineer with SMT, Inc. showcased four performance-based assessment machines that identify and measure skills, competencies, and trainability, which will be used by MWCC, Nypro and other area businesses and organizations in assessing and training employees and students.
The second program featured focused on the plastics manufacturing degree offered at Nypro University in Clinton. Angelo Sabatalo, Corporate Director of Organizational Development and Training for Nypro University and a member of the MWCC Foundation board of directors, explained the program that is open to all individuals, and is not limited to Nypro employees. Students receive hands-on training at Nypro, and can receive a college-credit bearing Certificate from Fitchburg State University, an associate degree from MWCC, and then transfer back to Fitchburg State for a bachelor’s degree in industrial maintenance. MWCC awards college credit for successful completion of master molders training, given in accordance with RJG, Inc. requirements, as part of its degree.
“Solution driven community colleges, like MWCC, have been collaborating with local industry for years to deliver targeted training that dramatically improves manufacturing workforce skills,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “By providing standardized and customizable training solutions, we will eliminate the manufacturing skills gap in our region and thereby promote economic growth and development.”
David McKeehan, President and CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, Jacqueline Belrose, vice president of lifelong learning and Workforce Development at MWCC, Robert Antonucci, President of Fitchburg State University, Angelo Sabatalo, Corporate Director of Organizational Development and Training for Nypro University, and John Harden, Economic Development Specialist for the North Central massachusetts Development Corp. also were among the featured speakers.