BRISTOL – The Bristol Technical Advisory Council was created in 2014 to match the technical business community to the educational community so both groups could better understand the needs of local workforce.
Since then, it has achieved a long list of accomplishments and is still continuing to evolve, said Cindy Bombard, president/CEO of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce. Bombard, who works closely with the council, gave a presentation to the Board of Education about it.
The seed for the council was actually planted back in 2012, when the Main Street Community Foundation convened a meeting with a group of superintendents from area communities to talk about the shortage of the technical work force, which includes the trades, manufacturing, and technology, she said.
In 2013, the foundation awarded a grant to area guidance counselors to attend an all day conference of the nonprofit Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, she said. “The purpose was to enlighten our educators on the possibility of technology, manufacturing, and the trades as a great career path for students.”
“From that point on it blossomed. Many partners were pulled together for a conversation and it continues to grow,” she said. The partners are from business, education, organizations such as Capital Workforce Partners and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the Connecticut Department of Labor, the City of Bristol, area manufacturers, and manufacturing trade associations, “of which there are many located here just in the Bristol area.”
“We all sat down together to collaborate on how best we could help each other out,” she said.
Bombard highlighted one of the accomplishments: Women in Manufacturing and Basic Manufacturing programs through Adult Education partnering with Rowley Spring, allowing students to get their GEDs while learning basic manufacturing, “which helped to fill the pipeline to area manufacturers, along with helping individuals find great jobs.”
In addition, there are now technical programs at both the high schools; Tunxis Community College has created a manufacturing round table with area business leaders, and is starting an advanced manufacturing program; and Bristol Technical Education Center has partnerships with area manufacturers and the New England Spring and Metalstamping Association.
“The nice part about it is our area manufacturers have donated a lot of the equipment, and some area teachers are offering their time on the side to help educate our students,” she said.
“These programs not only help our employers in our region, but they are changing the lives of students and giving some great jobs and opportunities for our kids, with the assistance from school guidance and career counselors,” she said, noting that they have arranged field trips to explore area manufacturers, created a speakers bureau, and hosted career fairs for students.
Efforts to promote manufacturing careers are happening all over now, she said. “But one thing that has been mentioned repeatedly is -- how do we get the parents engaged and aware of these many opportunities?”
Bombard said that’s why she is spreading the word about the Technical Advisory Council by speaking to the school board and the City Council. What was once thought of as a dismal career is now full of “energy and excitement” for the future, she said.
For more information about the Bristol Technical Advisory Council, contact the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce at 860-584-4718 or visit http://www.centralctchambers.org/.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.