Posted at 1:30 PM
Guest blog post by Joe Sylvestro, Pratt & Whitney vice president of Aftermarket Operations and a member of the Commerce Department’s Manufacturing Council
October is “Manufacturing Month” in Connecticut and throughout Pratt & Whitney, a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of jet aircraft engines. We’re celebrating all month because of our rich history and tradition, as well as because we’re excited about our future, which will see a ramp-up in engine production not seen for more than several decades.
To prepare for this growth, we’ve committed significant resources to modernizing our manufacturing processes and expanding our assembly and supply chain operations. We’ve also invested in our people -- as several unique, public-private partnerships for new employee training programs can attest.
To ensure we meet customer demand as we more than double our production by 2020, it is critical that we not only bring in new employees with the right skills mix, but also provide existing employees with the skills they need to stay current with today’s technology.
At our Pratt & Whitney-North Berwick, Maine, facility we’ve partnered with the state of Maine and York County Community College (YCCC) in Wells, Maine, to develop two school-run training programs [video]. The first, a six-week “On Boarding Training Program,” gives new employees the basic skills to become a machine operator, as well as exposure to key Pratt learnings in areas such as Quality and Environment, Health & Safety. Over the past two years, approximately 30 employees have graduated, and all of them have been placed in manufacturing positions in the company.
The second, more ambitious course is an 8,000-hour apprenticeship program in which employees take part in a trades technology curriculum that results in an Associate of Applied Science degree. While the program gives participants exposure to the latest in manufacturing technology, it also incorporates an academics portion and rotational assignments throughout the North Berwick facility. Fifteen students are set to graduate in the first wave early next year and will be placed in an assignment that utilizes their manufacturing, business and leadership skills.
In our home state of Connecticut we’ve partnered with two institutions to develop manufacturing machine technology training programs to prepare aerospace workers for new and advanced manufacturing.
Goodwin College, next door to our East Hartford main headquarters, recently began teaching a five-week Inspection, Quality and Technical Drawings training program [video] for Pratt & Whitney employees. The company-supported curriculum is another example of the partnership between the company and the school, aimed at increasing valuable employee skillsets.
Through another company-sponsored program, Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Conn., is retraining P&W employees, teaching them the foundations of becoming a professional machinist. Like the others, the seven-week intensive course [video] involves both class and shop time and focuses on the basics of machining and advanced manufacturing methods, coupled with new technology.
It’s a “win-win-win” for everyone, as Pratt & Whitney retains dedicated workers who have valuable knowledge and experience, our employees gain new skills that will serve them in their careers, and our local educational institutions benefit from the support these programs bring. Partnerships like these are essential to ensure we have the talent needed to continue to be a manufacturing leader in both the state and the nation.