GRANTEE: Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, Inc.

In a little more than two years of operation, the Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative (MPI) has proven its effectiveness as an educational program that raises the baseline of our labor force’s competencies to align employee skills closely to those most in-demand by employers. At the same time, the MPI serves as an economic development engine that supports business growth and strengthens regional economies.  

The 1,000+ job placements the MPI has produced to date, at an average salary of $37,000, have resulted in approximately $37 million in annual wages in the state and local economy. Thanks to manufacturing’s high employment multiplier (each manufacturing job results in approximately 1.55 additional jobs throughout the economy), the Pipeline has actually created more than 2,500 jobs to date, resulting in approximately $75 million in annual wages.

During the last two years, the MPI has successfully executed its two core strategic elements. First, it has transformed the region’s American Job Centers to serve as a talent pipeline for employers. Nearly 11,000 job candidates go through these centers each year where they go through a skills assessment process and then are given training in any area of weakness to ensure a minimum skill level for all candidates.

Second, it engages employers in the design of key program elements such as the assessments and training class curriculum.  90+% of class graduates receive an offer immediately upon graduation due to the strong engagement of employers, which ensures jobseekers are gaining the skills that are in demand.

However, despite this documented success with adult workers, the MPI can only reach its full potential by expanding opportunity to the next generation of workers. The grant provided by the Gawlicki Family Foundation will support the launch of an expansion of the MPI program to workforce-bound high school students. This key talent source is documented nationally as 50+% of every high school graduation class within one year of graduation (~30% immediately and ~20% of college freshmen who never return for their sophomore year). This next stage of the MPI program will create career pathways for high school students which are often lacking. This concept has the potential to revolutionize the educational system in our region and state. A small pilot of this concept was launched last semester with MPI partners at Norwich Free Academy (NFA).