Middlesex United Way works in the areas of education, income, health and housing because we all need a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family, good health, and a safe, decent and affordable place to live.
To improve community conditions, we must address the root causes of community problems and invest in long-term solutions that can prevent problems from happening in the first place. That means investing more in prevention-based programs.
In the area of income, our vision is that individuals and families are economically stable. We continue to ensure our community has access to basic needs, as well as focus on ensuring people are meaningfully employed and have the skills to improve their economic situation.
In an effort to expand our work, we have invested in a training workforce capacity building initiative to help strengthen local efforts to recruit and train community members for careers in manufacturing.
Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford (Workforce Solutions) is a funders’ collaborative committed to developing an educated, economically self-sufficient workforce that meets employer needs. Using sector-based, employer-driven strategies, participants improve work readiness and secure industry recognized credentials that are portable and stackable.
This means potential employees not only receive job specific training, but are also now much more marketable to potential employers, and good candidates for higher paying jobs.
The Central CT Advanced Manufacturing Employer Partnership, an industry partnership funded by Workforce Solutions Collaborative Metro Hartford, is working with the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology to expand services as the working agency specific to Middlesex County.
AMEP Chairman Charles Daniels is the CFO of Wepco Plastics in Middlefield. He leads a small group of employers toward the compilation and exchange of best practices in workforce development, including recruitment, training and retention of underserved populations. They essentially work together to find opportunities where they can not only bring on more new staff, but also set them up for long term success within the company.
AMEP/CCAT works with job seekers who have a high school diploma, but less than an associate degree, often unemployed or underemployed. Through AMEP’s/CCAT’s most recent work, four Middletown residents were selected for the Pratt & Whitney Pipeline program with starting wages of $29 an hour for an entry level position in manufacturing.
As a result of their successes, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions provided additional funding to AMEP/CCAT for a project called Better Skills Better Jobs. This project has helped Wepco Plastics improve retention and productivity through employee surveys, supervisory training and the implementation of career paths.
In a continued effort to build a more robust AMEP network in Middletown, Monica Perez of CCAT, the lead for the Better Skills Better Jobs program, is now a core team member for Middletown Works, a Boston Federal Reserve Working Cities Initiative.
This will help Central CT AMEP strengthen community-based partnerships and help their region’s job seekers fill positions in manufacturing for the Middlesex County employers.
This is just one example of the great strides local employers are making to level the playing field, giving potential employees who may otherwise go unemployed or underemployed a real shot at a stable position with a livable wage. It is our dream that more employers will modify their hiring practices to give new employees a chance at a life changing position, just like AMEP/CCAT has.
To learn how your business can get involved, please do not hesitate to reach out to Ed Bonilla at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-346-8695.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.