On Friday, Sept. 22, the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture (CETA) and the Barney School of Business hosted a Tech Talent Workshop in the 1877 Club, located in the Harry Jack Gray Center. The workshop was a collaboration with CETA, the Barney School of Business, and Connecticut industry to discuss an evolving partnership. The University of Hartford understands the growing urgency to better prepare students to meet the needs of a business and industry upon graduation, as well as incumbent worker training. The workshop was a call to Conn. industry to express their current needs in a robust and growing job market.
Dean Louis Manzione opened the event expressing his desire to “develop public, private, and government partnerships to ensure that we stay connected” to the needs of the Conn. business and industry. The University needs to support the rapid growth of technology and change in Conn. in order to stay connected to the best jobs for future students, and the best outcomes for Connecticut businesses. Dean Manzione explained that the solution may not be a new discipline or concentration in our college, but could mean a workshop, or a special certificate program. CETA’s goal is to help Conn. industries quickly realize the skills they need for the current workforce, for both future students and current employees.
Commissioner Catherine Smith from the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) touched on some of her plans to attract and retain Connecticut jobs. The DECD’s strategy for growth includes focusing on talent development, data analytics, tourism, green technology such as fuel cells, and understanding the connection between business and universities. Commissioner Smith expressed the importance of talent development above all else. The “state has a workforce that is #3 in terms of skill” and is “#4 in terms of productivity of our workforce relative to all other states.” she expressed the importance of holding onto that level of skill and productivity in Conn. because we know that is important to the companies and workforce and what they are counting on for the future.
The workshop included four guest speakers from the industry of Connecticut: Rob Thomas ’04, Gerry Holland, Brian Romano ‘83, and Sergio Loureiro. The Senior Vice President of CNA, Rob Thomas ‘04, spoke about data analytics and the importance of engineers in the insurance industry. He explained that data analytics are actually two separate things, data and the analysis of that data. An example of how data is different now is that companies need someone to engineer a digital interface for the customer to purchase insurance. It’s not just the technical skills that we need here, we need practical skills, and we need to join the two, just like data and analysis go together, explained Rob Thomas.
Vice President of Estimating and Marketing for Bartlett Brainerd Eacott Inc., Gerry Holland, gave a poignant analogy saying, if we stand in a circle and face inward it becomes much easier to move and adapt to the change in design. The need to engage in the field with different mediums of technology is cleanly evident in construction. Regardless of discipline, we must stay connected and look to each other in order to adjust and adapt to the rapid advancement of technology. Design, construction, and institutions are tied together and must work together to meet the demands of the future.
Manager of Control Systems and IT for A.G. Russell, Brian Romano ’83, explained that as a lean company, his firm cannot afford to take two years to train new graduates and recruiting employees from other companies can cost up to $30,000 in relocation costs. Romano is working with the University of Hartford and Central Connecticut State University to develop ways to educate students and current employees to enable them to be productive employees right away, such as workshops for current employees, internships, apprenticeships, and adjusting University programs.
The Vice President of Enterprise Capacity for Pratt and Whitney, Sergio Loureiro, mentioned that the metrology certificate program, conducted by Professor Sahay and Professor Ghosh, has been very successful for them. Rob Thomas made note that these programs are what company’s need to train current employees and close an existing skill gap. Loureiro believes anything that higher education can do will be beneficial to “accelerate the knowledge transfer” and increase productivity. He also points out that many aspects of the company will be turning digital which will require new skills from their employees and future students, and it is crucial to work together to customize the right learning model.
The workshop closed with a discussion. CETA already hosts events and programs that aim to address some of concerns that were raised, such as the Networkology events, the UTC Metrology certificate program, and the CETA Design Expo. The Networkology event helps students socialize with working professionals in their field. The CETA Design Expo enables students to have a crossover understanding of the engineering field while working with their peers to design and present their collaborative project to professionals in industry. CETA and the Barney School of Business will plan follow-up events to discuss next steps and new approaches to ensure the ongoing success of Connecticut business and industry.