DRED commissioner talks about modern manufacturing At celebration for agency’s partnership with community colleges
12/06/2013 by Liz Markhlevskaya
PORTSMOUTH — While some young people still think of manufacturing as assembly lines and repetitive work, in the modern age that is far from true.
According to Jeffrey Rose, commissioner of the state Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED), some may be surprised to learn how clean and sophisticated the field of manufacturing can be in New Hampshire.
In contrast with previous decades, manufacturing nowadays largely involves high-tech skills and computer generated technology, said Christopher Way, interim director of DRED Division of Economic Development.
On Thursday, Rose and Way joined dozens of business leaders at a reception at Great Bay Community College, to celebrate DRED’s partnership with Great Bay and other community colleges in the state, as well as private businesses.
According to Way, such partnerships are vital to ensure that the state’s workforce is evolving alongside private industries. With the aging New Hampshire population, one of DRED’s missions is to ensure the younger generation moves to the state and remains here, having opportunities to train and work in a quality field.
As DRED focuses on helping to attract and expand the manufacturing industry, particularly in aerospace, one of the department’s goals is to get young people interested in the field, said Way. Accomplishing that at times means breaking some of the stereotypes that people may still have about the industry.
“It’s a very different atmosphere,” said Way.
Recently, Great Bay Community College opened a new center in Rochester, to help students of all ages gain manufacturing and other skills needed for today’s workforce. The state-of-the-art Advanced Technology and Academic Center, which opened in May, features a six-month advanced composites manufacturing program, which is structured to fit the needs of companies like Albany Engineered Composites (AEC).
AEC recently partnered with Safran USA to build a new joint manufacturing plant, which is expected to bring in close to 500 new employees in the next several years.
On Dec. 17, the Advanced Technology and Academic Center will hold its first graduation, and many of the graduates already have scheduled interviews to work at the new plant, according to Great Bay officials.
According to Will Arvelo, president of Great Bay Community College, the new center would not be possible without funding from DRED and partnership with the department.
He also noted that through its N.H. Job Training Fund, DRED helps private businesses train their employees by offering 50-percent reimbursements for worker training, and many employees who qualify for training through the grant go through community colleges.