August 4, 2016

Advanced manufacturing training program caters to veterans

MANCHESTER — State and federal lawmakers gathered at Manchester Community College on Tuesday to announce the launch of an advanced manufacturing enrollment program specifically for veterans.

The program, offered through the state's community college system, provides the state's veterans with financial aid, scholarships, tuition reimbursement, and training for the 10-month program that trains students for careers in aerospace, defense, biomedical technology, and other manufacturing fields.

Nearly 500 students will graduate from the Connecticut State Colleges and University system's advanced manufacturing program by the end of the year, 98 percent of whom are expected to find work shortly after, CSCU President Mark Ojakian said.

"Our graduates are in high demand because they are highly skilled," he said. "Our state's veterans protected us. Our armed forces continue to protect us with strength and honor. It's now our turn to help them."

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veteran's Affairs and a member of the Armed Services Committee, said that as the state develops technology, there is a need to fill related jobs.

"You need people with the skills in advanced manufacturing technology," he said. "You need people who know how to do this work. This work requires real skills."

He added that through their military training, veterans obtain skills including discipline, initiative, and work ethic, which make them ideal for employment.

"To every veteran out there who wants a better job, we need you," Blumenthal said.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman thanked the veterans present for their "tremendous sacrifice," adding that when their service is complete, "it becomes our job to serve you for a change."

She said the program not only will offer more opportunities to veterans, but also will strengthen the state's workforce as well as its economy.

Veterans who attended the announcement ceremony included some who have graduated from the program, including Vangnter Lor, a U.S. Army veteran, and John Genna, a Marine who is now an instructor and program coordinator.

Following his stint in the military, Lor worked multiple jobs prior to graduating from Asnuntuck Community College in May and now works as a machinist at Pratt & Whitney.

"I always felt that I wanted to get a career and not just work at a job," he said. "I know that this is one of the best decisions that I've made for myself."

Genna joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1994, serving for seven years motivated by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he traveled to Iraq to work as a helicopter mechanic.

Upon returning home, he earned his bachelor's degree in engineering and now works as a teacher at Three Rivers Community College.

"It totally changed my career path," Genna said. "I didn't know I was going to love it as much as I did."

He credited his military training with providing him the adaptability and ability to handle high-stress situations, and said there is "no doubt" that the advanced manufacturing program will enable graduates to get work.

"That job will turn into a career if you want it to," Genna said. "It's an awesome opportunity for the veterans out there. Take advantage of it."

"We owe the women and men who put on the uniform and sacrificed for us," Department of Labor Commissioner Scott Jackson said. "One of the ways that we pay that debt is everyday we look for new ways to extend our hand. This is one of those ways."

To be eligible for classes, which begin Aug. 29, veterans must register at

www.cthires.com

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