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Dislocated Manufacturing Workers Get New Life with Berkshire Community College and Paulson Training

CHESTER CT (April 2010)–Often considered the birthplace of plastics manufacturing, Massachusetts has a long history of innovation, education and job creation in the plastics industry. And like so many other areas, times are tough now – but there’s hope. A new state sponsored program administered by Berkshire Community College (BCC) aims to re-invigorate the local plastics industry by training newly unemployed and dislocated workers with new skills in plastics manufacturing and by partnering with area manufacturing companies who have identified employees exhibiting growth potential but needing additional skills training.

Berkshire Community CollegeIn 2008, BCC was awarded the Applied Manufacturing Technology Training Institute Workforce Competitive Trust Fund grant that paved the way for the school to offer a manufacturing certificate program. With businesses struggling and unemployment at an all time high this program couldn’t have come at a better time. The goal of the program was to assist 20 individuals and to date BCC has enrolled 36.

“When we started the program it was immediately apparent the need was there. We had several more people than expected wanting to enroll and we just couldn’t turn them away,” said program director Bill Mulholland, Dean of Life Long Learning and Workforce Development at BCC.

According to Bill, the cornerstone of the certificate program is the online plastics training manufacturing skills programs developed by Paulson Training Programs, whose e-learning product line, InSite360™, offers over 100 hours of specialty training in all areas of plastics manufacturing.

“We chose Paulson because [InSite360] is easy to use, highly effective and designed to allow workers to fit their training in-between shifts,” said Shannon Pignatelli, Grant Coordinator at BCC.

She added, “It’s always difficult to provide training for all shifts and with Paulson you can take their training anywhere there’s a computer at any time.”

The Berkshire area includes a significant number of plastics companies and is home to the large Sabic (formerly GE) lab and testing facility in Pittsfield. Having BCC offer world-class plastic manufacturing training that is convenient, technical and includes dynamic 3D animation, testing, interactivity and automatic activity tracking is a win-win.

As a result of this certificate program, participants will come away with enhanced skills and competencies for potential placement in long-term and sustainable employment and in many cases leading to upper level employment possibilities.

Adds Scott Paulson, President of Paulson Training, “We couldn’t be happier than to see a successful collaboration between the state and local manufacturing companies to keep the plastics industry thriving in western Massachusetts and for us all to play a significant role in creating sustainable career opportunities. We’re proud to be a part of it.”

Founded in 1976, Paulson Training Programs has a 30+-year history as the leading provider of the highest quality training services to the plastics manufacturing industry. Paulson Training continues to be at the forefront of disseminating the technological advances in the plastics processing industry and advises on them in a vendor-neutral manner.

Founded in 1960, BCC was the first community college established by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Today, there are 15 community colleges throughout the state. Located in Pittsfield, Mass, BCC is recognized for its comprehensive academic and personal support programs and boasts one of the highest graduation rates in the state of Massachusetts, with students moving on to quality four-year institutions.

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