Community college helps train workers
11/28/2011 by Michael McCord
PORTSMOUTH — Last week at Great Bay Community College, the first seven graduates of the new WorkReady New Hampshire program completed their course work and received a pair of certificates, including the National Career Readiness Certificate.
The graduates, all unemployed, completed nearly two months of classroom and individual study, and they are now poised to re-enter the workforce with increased math and communications skills, said Jennifer Scotland, director of the WorkReady program at Great Bay Community College.
"Studies have proven that having these skills cuts down on hiring and training costs, while increasing retention and worker productivity," Scotland said. "Having this national certificate says, 'This is an individual ready to return to work.'"
Scotland said WorkReady is but the tip of the iceberg for worker training programs run through Great Bay Community College. Worker training and education as well as finding employees with the right skill sets consistently rank among the top concerns of business owners. At the recent legislative roundtable in Portsmouth, Scotland told local business leaders and owners that companies of all sizes can and should take advantage of the wide range of training program offerings at the community college.
"I'm actually surprised that more people don't know about the programs we have because our main focus is to help these companies succeed," Scotland said.
Some of the schools training programs are connected to federal and state grant opportunities and some are not. GBCC and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard run a regular apprentice training program that enhances the skills of up to 125 to 175 apprentices annually. And another estimated 100 workers from small and large companies are taking as many as 80 non-credit classes on and off campus in program offerings from automobile repair to modern manufacturing to health care and biotech. There is even a training program for people with disabilities to acquire skills and get training in the hospitality industry.
"We work with business and industry to custom design and deliver training programs that will make a difference right away," said Lin Tamulonis, associate vice president for corporate and community education at GBCC. "We work to create programs that allow workers to do their jobs and not impede companies on their day to day business activities. We make sure that what happens in the classroom will be easily transferred to the workplace."
Tamulonis has worked at GBCC since 1996, and she said the growth of the school's Business and Training Center has been a significant development. The center has partnered with local and regional businesses such as Lonza, Salient Surgical and Sullivan Tire to offer certification programs, courses and workshops designed to upgrade employee skills, advance leadership and management capabilities, and support ever-changing job initiatives.
The training program offerings at the school are expected to grow dramatically. The community college system recently received a $20 million federal grant for advanced manufacturing training. GBCC is setting up a new composite manufacturing training program that is directly connected to the major expansion of Albany Engineered Composites in Rochester, an aerospace manufacturing firm, that is expected to generate more than 300 new jobs in the next few years.
GBCC will be the lead institution in providing worker training for Albany Engineered Composites as part of a larger plan to enhance the state's stature as an innovative location for emerging technological manufacturing processes.
In addition to worker training programs, GBCC has recently launched new programs and developed curriculum to better serve degree-seeking students and the diverse needs of the state local economy. Among the new offerings are: hospitality management, which now includes concentrations in spa management and event and meeting planning; digital media technologies, with concentrations in gaming and digital communication; and new liberal arts programs, with concentrations in engineering science, biological science and chemistry.
Tamulonis said she works with as many as 10 companies at a time to help them develop their training programs. While some decide not to follow through for a variety of business and financial reasons, she said most develop training programs because the benefits can be significant. Especially for small businesses, Tamulonis said, "the smallest improvement can make the biggest difference in their business performance."
For information about training offerings at GBCC, call Tamulonis at 427-7650 or go to the business and training section on the school's Web site at www.greatbay.edu.