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Getting Ready for a Career in Manufacturing

Ryan Manger Apprentice Program

Waterbury, CT — AMETEK – Haydon Kerk Pittman partners with the Waterbury Career Academy in the state’s apprenticeship training program to provide students with hands on experience in the manufacturing industry. Working to ensure students have an opportunity to succeed in today’s workforce, we support the students at Waterbury Career Academy and wish them continued success on their journey to discovery


Ryan Manger is in manufacturing for the long haul. A pre-apprentice machinist, Manger hopes to carve out a career at Ametek Haydon-Kerk in Waterbury, a leading manufacturer of precision lead screw and anti-backlash nut assemblies.

He’s already working there part time as a part of the state’s apprenticeship program.

In June the 17-year-old engineering and manufacturing student at Waterbury Career Academy will join the workforce as a full-time apprentice.

Manger, of Waterbury, credits the academy and its staff for helping develop his technical mind.

“To make hypothetical drawings become real things is to me very satisfying,” he said.

Schools statewide including Waterbury Career Academy and the state W.F. Kaynor Technical High School in Waterbury and the Oliver Wolcott Technical High School in Torrington have been working to train students, and to convince them, and their parents, that manufacturing is a highly technical career that pays for skills.

Nancy Steffens, communications director for the state Department of Labor, said pre-apprenticeship programs teach basic technical and job-readiness skills for occupations. They prepare participants for registered apprenticeship training, often a combination of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction supervised by a journey-level craft person or trade professional. The apprentice learns practical and theoretical aspects of a highly-skilled occupation.

“Apprenticeship is a great way to move into a well-paying career, and earn a paycheck while learning,” said Steffens.

Typical jobs are CNC programmer and operator; eyelet tool and die maker, and grinder. Apprenticeship positions pay from $11 to $15 an hour.

Todd Berch, program manager for the state’s Office of Apprenticeship Training, said after apprenticeship the pay jumps to $22 to $25 an hour.

He said stereotypes of the smoky, dirty and make-little-money profession are outdated. Expertise and professionalism are demanded and firms including Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and Electric Boat are hiring, as are the smaller shops scattered throughout the state that serve as suppliers.

The Department of Labor reports about 25,000 of 160,300 manufacturing jobs statewide are open, and employers are seeking help. A decade ago, before the Great Recession, Connecticut manufacturers employed 186,100 workers. After years of decline, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates growth. In 2002 machine shops; turned product; and screw, nut and bolt manufacturing employed 318,400 workers nationwide. That increased to 362,300 jobs in 2012 and is expected to grow to 372,800 by 2022.

But for Leo Tamaiolo, co-owner of Waterbury-based White Welding, finding qualified workers isn’t always easy. The welding fabrication shop produces new products and repairs metal goods manufactured elsewhere.

Tomaiolo said he is seeing a great deal of work that once was sent to China staying local.

“China’s quality is not that good, “he said. “Screw machine shops I deal with can’t get the product right from outsourcing; so, it’s being made better here in Connecticut where the manufacturing talent is.”

He said he would like to hire recent manufacturing grads, but has yet to find any with the kind of skill sets needed at White Welding.

At Noujaim Tool Co. in Waterbury students, who are sophomores and juniors at Kaynor, are enrolled in the apprenticeship training program. Registered with the Department of Labor as pre-apprentices, students work part time. By graduation they become full-time apprentices and serve 1,000 hours under the supervision and guidance of a trained journeyman. The shop has 12 graduates of the training program who became journeymen and nine who have already graduated and three more in training.

David Telesca, principal of Kaynor Technical High School, said the school has 12 shops including the precision machine shop, which accepts 18 students teach year.

“There are more jobs in manufacturing for young apprentices than we can provide,” said Telesca. “Waterbury is a manufacturing town and the reality is we are limited to 18 graduates by the number of students we can handle, given the size of ours shop.”

Waterbury Career Academy was founded in 2013 to meet a growing demand for STEM students (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math); the academy offers four programs of study: computer information, health services, human services and advanced engineering/manufacturing technology.

Waterbury public schools and its school board wanted to offer Waterbury students an opportunity to attend a school like Kaynor.

“Only a small portion of Waterbury students were being accepted into the State Technical High Schools and they felt a new school modeled after those schools would be beneficial to the students of the City of Waterbury,” said Michael Harris, Assistant Principal of Waterbury Career Academy High School.

Selim Noujaim, a former state representative who represented Waterbury and whose family owns Noujaim Tool, said the state could do a better job encouraging students to become apprentices.

Noujaim said he learned of the program through his relationships with Kaynor and the Smaller Manufacturers Association.

“I think if it is promoted better more people will take advantage of it,” he said. “We at Noujaim Tool Company have taken advantage of it because I know that it works.”

Noujaim said his first apprentice came to the company in 1988 and is still with them. He said the program works at his family company because of their process of grooming workers through mentoring.

“We do not just bring apprentices in and throw them on the shop floor and say you are a low-level worker,” he said. “Every apprentice is teamed up with a mentor who is an experienced toolmaker who is earning a very good amount of money.”

Of Waterbury Career Academy’s 685 students 120 are enrolled in the engineering/manufacturing technology program. In 2017 the academy graduated 40 of those students; 28 are currently enrolled in college or community colleges, 11 are employed in manufacturing.

“Manufacturers tell me they need workers, but I’m having some challenges in placing them,” Harris said. “I’m not getting the kind of enthusiasm from manufacturers I anticipated. Many of our students are definitely employable and eager to work in manufacturing, but currently we’re in a holding pattern in terms of getting kids placed.”

About Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions Inc.

Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions is a business unit of AMETEK, Inc., a leading global manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices with annual sales of $4.0 billion.

Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions is the joining of two world-class brands in the field of linear motion: Haydon Switch and Instrument, Inc. and Kerk Motion Products, Inc. Together as Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions, the businesses offer a wide range of high-performance and precision linear motion products.
Recognized as a leading manufacturer of stepper-motor-based linear actuators, rotary motors, lead screw assemblies, and linear rail and guide systems used in niche market applications, Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions has developed industry-renowned brands built upon its technical innovation, versatility, customization, product durability, and dedicated customer service.

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February 25, 2018