US Department of Labor

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.