Advanced Manufacturing Certificate
Lakes Region Community College’s advanced manufacturing certificate program underway at Watts Water Technologies
26 Watts employees begin certificate program to learn new skills, technologies
Franklin, New Hampshire – Watts Water Technologies is the site of an innovative job training program that has begun preparing current Watts employees with the skills and technical know-how to operate the latest advanced manufacturing equipment. The new program, which dovetails with Lakes Region Community College’s (LRCC) advanced manufacturing certificate and associate degree program, is underway at the Watts’ Franklin facility. Now about a month in to the program, its instructors, students and sponsors are enthusiastic about its progress.
“This program is a great example of how businesses and academic institutions can work together creatively to find solutions to the issues we’re all trying to manage, and that is mostly around workforce training,” said Michael LaBrecque, who teaches the course and is a past Watts employee. “We put this out there to employees at Watts and the interest was enormous, so we went to work to make it happen.”
Watts, which makes plumbing parts and equipment, recently invested significant funds to update its machining and manufacturing equipment in a renovation that increased production and modernized its operations. The upgrade left many Watts employees in need of additional training, and the company with an opportunity to think outside the box. Spearheaded by LaBrecque, Watts teamed up with LRCC to create an on-site training program that mirrors the curriculum offered on campus. Funded by a NH Job Training Fund matching grant of about $55,000 and additional investment by Watts, 26 employees enrolled in the program, which began in early September. They’ll benefit by not only learning new skills, but also by receiving college credit for their efforts. Those credits can be applied to many of the aligned certificate and degree programs offered at LRCC and Community College System of New Hampshire campuses across the state.
“The advanced manufacturing program allows me to learn about a topic in a field that I love,” said Tony Ovens who is a machine operator at Watts. “I look forward to class each week and to the labs that provide hands on learning. I definitely see myself pursuing my associate degree when I complete the certificate program and I hope to have Mike as one of my professors.”
The training program at Watts will take about a year to complete, earning graduates a significant head start on LRCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Degree, should they choose to pursue it. With the average annual salary for manufacturing jobs at more than $75,000 and the industry making up about 19 percent of New Hampshire’s economy, the impetus for finding creative training approaches to workforce training cannot be overstated.
“Training up our current workforce and encouraging young adults to consider careers in high tech manufacturing are two of the most important issues facing employers today,” said Adam Plummer who is the CNC department 77 Lead person at Watts. “Creative partnerships that connect core academic concepts with real-world skills are the most efficient – and most rewarding – approaches we’ve seen and we look forward to more of them in the future.”
Lakes Region Community College is a fully accredited, comprehensive community college located in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire that serves over 1,200 students annually. LRCC offers 28 associate degree programs including Nursing, Fire Technology, Business, Media Arts, Culinary Arts, Automotive, and Marine Technology, as well as short-term certificate programs. In addition, LRCC provides a strong background in Liberal Arts for students who choose to do their first two years at a community college and then transfer to a four-year college or university for a baccalaureate degree. LRCC is part of the Community College System of New Hampshire. The seven community colleges in the system are committed to working with businesses throughout the state to train and retain employees to develop a robust workforce across all sectors and embraces the "65 by 25 Initiative," which calls for 65% of NH citizens to have some form of postsecondary education by 2025 to meet future workforce demands.