Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Local News

Clinton STEM Initiative Gains New Partner

Clinton’s Economic Development Commission (EDC), Clinton Manufacturing Coalition, and PTA are working to spread the word about a new program and Facebook page aimed at educating parents and students about the benefits of careers in the STEM fields and manufacturing.

Getting students educated in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields and showing them how those interests can lead to fulfilling careers has been a focal point for the EDC. Two years ago, the commission founded the Clinton Manufacturing Coalition to strengthen the bond between the manufacturing businesses in Clinton and the community.

Clinton has a substantial numebr of manufacturing companies. Bausch Advanced Technology Group, Roper Thermals, NSA (National Sintered Alloys), Tower Laboratories LTD, Kenyon, and Argo EMS have all joined the manufacturing coalition.

One of the initiatives that came out of the coalition was to increase the involvement in the school system to provide STEM education. Those conversations are ongoing and now the PTA has gotten involved as well.

A Facebook page named “ClintonSTEM/apprenticeshippartners” has recently been launched to help spread the word. EDC member John May is EDC member behind the initiative and said the hope for the program is to create apprenticeship programs with some of the manufacturers in Clinton so that kids get real world skills.

May called STEM “chiefly important because what we do is give our kids a quality apprenticeship and experience they can use.”

May ran for a seat in the Connecticut state legislature in the 2020 election and though his campaign wasn’t successful, one of the issues he ran on was increasing STEM education and job training, which he said he is an issue that resonated with a lot of people with whom he talked.

May pointed to other towns in Connecticut that have had similar programs for years that actually allow students to accrue credits toward associate degrees or earn set money and suggested those are similar models Clinton could look into.

By increasing the awareness and opportunity of these kinds of programs May said the hope is that it could help slow the flow of people from the state for employment elsewhere.

“Perhaps one of the simpler solutions to that problem is increased opportunity here. I think the pendulum shifted to one side where a college degree is required for everything, but many employers say the skills needed on the job site are completely different,” May said.

By getting students who aren’t interested in college experience in other fields that could lead to fulfilling careers, May said there’s the possibility that more of those students will find work after they graduate and remain in the area.

“We have local manufacturers here that would give kids a chance to stay here in state with jobs after they graduate,” May said.

While the EDC and manufacturing coalition have been interested in getting the program off the ground for years, recently the PTA also expressed an interest in getting involved. PTA member Laura Colebank attended the EDC meeting and said she was interested in collaborating with the EDC and manufacturing coalition.

“This STEM initiative aligns perfectly with our mission to help students explore careers. We are very excited about the job experience opportunities. And we are interested in helping economic growth in Clinton and creating a vibrant community,” said Colebank.

“They are working to provide opportunities for students to learn more about high paying manufacturing jobs and provide job shadow and internship programs. They are also interested in collaborating with Clinton Public Schools regarding curriculum to prepare students with the skills they need to succeed,” Colebank said.

May said that given the PTA’s relationship with the schools and parents the partnership could help facilitate the partnership.

“There’s a hunger out there in the community for this. It’s very important to have the PTA on board with whatever you want to do,” May said.

As an example of the kinds of benefits for which the program could increase awareness, Colebank singled out Bausch Advanced Technology, one of the manufacturers in Clinton, that has internships, apprenticeships, and summer programs available across a broad spectrum of departments.

“The PTA plans to collaborate with CMC, EDC, and CPS to help implement initiatives, educate parents and students, and increase awareness about these exciting career opportunities. We will help increase awareness through social media, newsletters, and PTA sponsored events,” Colebank said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group hasn’t been able to finalize any plans yet, but the EDC is hoping to host events aimed at increasing the awareness of the program as well as events where parents and students can learn more about the manufacturing businesses in Clinton and what working in one looks like.

Eric O’Connell covers news for Clinton for Zip06. Email Eric at e.oconnell@shorepublishing.com.

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