WEC awarded $394K Real Jobs RI Grant

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August 2017-- The Westerly Education Center (WEC) receives $394,124 from the Real Jobs RI program to support workforce training for process technicians. The job training program will benefit 11 employers including Pfizer, Thielsch Engineering, Amgen, Roger Williams Medical Center, Toray Plastics (America), Rhodes Pharmaceuticals, Grey Sail Brewing, Kenyon Industries, Eurofins Lancaster Biopharma, Eurofins Spectrum Analytical, and Tedor Pharma. 

“We are grateful to Real Jobs RI for this grant, which will boost the employability of many people,” said Executive Director Amy Grzybowski. “Westerly Education Center is thrilled to help Rhode Island and Connecticut businesses meet an identified workforce need. Thanks to Pfizer, who approached us about the need for process technicians, we gathered a cohort of employers to collectively submit the proposal to provide a boot-camp style training in the basic skills required for ideal candidates.”

Employers in diverse industries share a need for process technicians, a term for a career in controlling the mixture of ingredients and their resulting output. Few job candidates possess the baseline skills necessary for careers in pharmaceuticals manufacturing, brewing, medical research, and textile manufacturing to name a few. Local employers struggle to find qualified individuals to fill open process technician positions, and they face long-term shortages in this career path.

“This boot camp is an innovative higher educational program that will increase high-in-demand graduates prepared for the workforce,” said Brenda Dann-Messier, Commissioner of Postsecondary Education for the State of Rhode Island. “Westerly Education Center is doing really innovative work with CCRI to develop training that will prepare individuals for a high-wage career pathway.”

The curriculum will be created and taught by Community College of Rhode Island faculty, with the University of Rhode Island serving as evaluator. This grant’s other partners include Apprenticeship RI, Skills for Rhode Island’s Future, Rhode Island Department of Education, Building Futures RI, Williams M. Davies, Jr. Career & Technical High School, and Westerly High School.

“Offering skills training of the baseline competencies for process technologists is highly desired by several industries, not just by Pfizer,” said Glenn Wilcox, Director of CRD API Manufacturing at Pfizer, who started his career at the company as a quality control technician after graduating from CCRI’s chemical technology program with an associate’s degree in applied science. “These are great jobs with huge potential for the employees. Many opportunities exist for employees to advance within the process technologist position or to a higher wage position with a company. The boot camp will offer practical training so that individuals with no, or little experience can meet the minimum qualifications to start working as process technologists after completing the course.”

Program planning will commence at the end of the month.