Providence (R.I.) — Enrollment is now open for Rhode Island’s first registered apprenticeship program in manufacturing, which will train computer numerically controlled (CNC) machinists. Both individuals and employers looking to obtain skills training for an employee can participate in the CNC Machinist Registered Apprenticeship—a new program made possible by funding from the Governor’s Workforce Board Rhode Island.
In a statewide survey of Rhode Island companies, CNC machinists were deemed the most in-demand occupation for moving the state’s manufacturing sector forward. The apprenticeship program, which launches this fall, has been designed by a consortium of educators, manufacturing executives, and nonprofit industry groups to both create career opportunity and develop a more robust workforce tailor-made for Rhode Island.
“This CNC apprenticeship program is a first step in a larger effort to create high-wage, high-skill manufacturing career tracks for Rhode Islanders while also building the talented workforce our manufacturing sector needs to operate and grow their businesses,” said Ruth Gobeille, Communications Manager for Polaris Manufacturing Extension Program (formerly RIMES), which operates as the Manufacturing Industry Partner of the Governor’s Workforce Board. “This type of program not only bolsters an important business sector in our state, but it also creates the type of workforce development that is an attractant to companies looking to relocate in the region.”
Governor Lincoln D. Chafee signed paperwork in May 2014 at the Annual Meeting of the Governor’s Workforce Board to use general revenue funding toward workforce development to launch this new program. Up to $150,000 was allocated in the FY 2014 budget to develop core elements of non-traditional apprenticeship programs.
The consortium that collaborated on the CNC apprenticeship program included individuals from the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association (RIMA), Polaris MEP, the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, which serves at the Marine Industry Partner of the Governor’s Workforce Board, the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), and Rhode Island manufacturers such as Guill Tool & Engineering, Nordson EFD and Yushin America.
Focus-group research with the state’s manufacturing sector was conducted from Fall 2012 to Spring 2013 to determine which occupation should be the first manufacturing apprenticeship for Rhode Island. CNC machinist quickly rose to the top of the list. A diverse group of manufacturers were consulted—ranging from those working in food production, to boat building, to precision manufacturing/robotics.
The CNC Machinist Registered Apprenticeship combines on-the-job training—with a mentor working on a 1:1 ratio—with classroom work in technical education at CCRI. Individuals will earn a majority of their credits toward an Associate’s Degree while they are being paid as an employee to work and learn. The wage of the apprentice will increase as he or she completes different stages of the apprenticeship.
Companies needing to advance the skills of their own workforce can participate in the program by enrolling one of their employees and applying to become a sponsoring employer.
Individuals who are not currently employed by a sponsoring employer can apply directly to the program. They will need to both demonstrate the aptitude to succeed in the program and also obtain employment with a sponsoring employer.
One route individuals can take to gain entry is to first enroll in CCRI’s 60-hour Introduction to Manufacturing Skills Boot Camp, which was launched this summer so potential apprentices can both learn about the field and gain basic skills such as shop math, machining and measuring techniques, and blueprint reading. Individuals who already have these skills may be able to apply directly to the program.
The program’s design includes a career advisor, RIMA’s Manager of Workforce and Career Development Chris Matteson, who will advise individual candidates about the best route to gain entry to the program. Matteson will also work with candidates who are not currently employed in the manufacturing sector to seek an appropriate job placement.
Individuals interested in applying should contact Chris Matteson at the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association (401-751-0160 /firstname.lastname@example.org). The program is open to those who are 16 and older and have their GED, High School diploma or a higher degree.
Companies interested in becoming a sponsoring employer should contact Bernard Treml, the Supervisor of Apprenticeship for the RI Department of Labor & Training (401-462-8536 / email@example.com).
There is a nominal application fee ($24 for individuals, $120 for companies).
To learn more about Rhode Island’s apprenticeship programs, visit the website of the RI Department of Labor and Training to find information under the Workforce Regulation and Safety heading (www.dlt.ri.gov/apprenticeship/).