Greenfield Community College to Provide Curriculum for 12-Week Precision Machine Training

July 24, 2013

With state grant funding, Greenfield Community College joins the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board (FHREB) and Career Centers, a consortium of area businesses, and Franklin County Technical School (FCTS) to provide a twelve-week training program in precision machining for unemployed and underemployed adults in the region. The Middle Skills Manufacturing Initiative (MSMI) will address a persistent need among area manufacturing companies for a stronger and more vibrant pipeline of new and experienced workers to keep pace with business and replace a rapidly-aging workforce. Prior to this program, area residents seeking post-secondary training in precision machining have had to travel to Springfield, Worcester, or Connecticut. With MSMI, they’ll be able to get training close to home.

GCC’s role in the partnership is to provide and support a curriculum that is new for GCC and the community. The 12-week intensive training program will be offered weekday evenings at Franklin County Technical School and will be taught jointly by FCTS and GCC-contracted instructors from industry. The initial curriculum will include blueprint reading, math for manufacturing, metrology, and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) instruction, with a significant portion of the 220-hour training dedicated to hands-on applications in a lab/shop setting. The instructors will use project-based learning to reinforce the use of applied skills needed in workplace situations and participants will have an additional 40 hours of online assignments to demonstrate the mastery of the topics learned in class. With MSMI, students will be able to get training close to home using CNC equipment at the FCTS in Turners Falls. To prepare them for success on the job, students will train on newly installed CNC equipment at FCTS that is the same as used by area manufacturers.

GCC Dean for Community Education Bob Barba said: “GCC’s key role is in developing a curriculum that best serves the needs of area manufacturers and their prospective employees. Our Director of Workforce Development, Alyce Stiles, has a background both in manufacturing and in curriculum development, and she has worked closely in weekly meetings with both FCTS teachers and industry partners from Valley Steel Stamp to craft a project-based curriculum that we think will distinguish this program from that of others throughout the state. This collaboration, along with adapting best practices from other successful Advanced Manufacturing programs, allows us to offer a locally relevant and industry-wide applicable curriculum.”

Advanced manufacturing is one of a broad area that requires what are called “middle skills”—skills learned beyond high school but which don’t require a 2- or 4-year college degree. “Middle skills” are critical workforce needs to build sustainable families and communities within Franklin and Hampshire Counties. This training program prepares workers for entry-level CNC Operator and precision manufacturing jobs to support the growing demand for skilled employees by 48 area employers.

GCC and area partners are exploring how to build on this “middle skills” training to create pathways to further education and degrees. Possibilities being explored include linking post-secondary training through MSMI to credit-earning “middle skills” coursework in mechanical engineering technology or related areas.

Sheryl Hruska, GCC’s Chief Academic and Student Affairs Officer said, “Greenfield Community College is pleased to be a partner in the creation of this new advanced manufacturing training program.  Special state funding and the strong working partnership are at the heart of what makes this opportunity available.  The priority for this current project funding is to fill training needs and business position vacancies with highly technical staff.  As the training program develops, GCC will be working with the partners to explore the value of potentially adding credit-bearing options that build on what is learned through this current project. GCC’s approach to workforce training is to provide a range of options that meet the needs of students wherever they are on the path to reaching their educational and employment goals.”

The $239,351 project is funded by a Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund grant through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The grant program is administered at the state level by Commonwealth Corporation. The project funds training programs for four cohorts of students, one each in Fall 2013, Spring and Fall 2014, and Fall 2015. This program is also supported by the MA Community Colleges & Workforce Development Transformation Agenda (MCCWDTA), which is 100% funded through a $20 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employment & Training Administration TAACCT. Grant agreement #TC-22505-11-60-A-25.

Lead Employers VSS, Inc. and Bete Fog Nozzle contributed to the training plan, and an additional 12 employers signed on to support the program, including Amherst Machine, Applied Dynamics, Argotec, the DuMont Company LLC, Hassay Savage Company, Mayhew Steel Products, Montague Machine, Poplar Hill Machine, L.S.Starrett, Rodney Hunt, Sisson Engineering, and SmallCorp.

Participants who are interested can sign up to attend July & August Information Sessions by calling (413)-774-4361. For more information about Workforce Development trainings, see or contact: Alyce Stiles, (413) 775-1607.

Mary McClintock

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