Northern Maine Community College officials know the value of strong relationships between employers, educators and students, as evidenced by three fall semester campus visits from General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and the Associated General Contractors of Maine.
The October visit from the Associated General Contractors of Maine was an opportunity to meet with Building Construction students. Members offered information about employment opportunities and encouraged the students to “stick with it” and earn their associate’s degree.
Later in the semester, students in the Precision Machining Technology (PMT) program were visited by representatives from General Electric and Pratt & Whitney.
“Visits from potential employers, as well as visits to potential employer facilities, put everything into perspective,” said Dean Duplessis, PMT Instructor. “Students identify with the demand for skilled workers in this particular field, and furthermore, the student identifies with the appropriateness of the skills being taught in the program.”
Finding skilled employees is a challenge for many employers these days, so campus visits play a vital role in maintaining and building a workforce.
“We need employees with the skill sets developed by these colleges,” said Russell Chaput, Associate Director, Human Resources for Pratt & Whitney’s North Berwick, Maine facility. “By connecting with these programs and students on a regular basis, we continue to grow our talent pipeline with the skills and talent needed to support our growth.”
It is not just recruiters making these visits. General Electric brought technicians and engineers to tour the NMCC Precision Machining Technology lab to provide an opportunity for students to realize the different employment opportunities and to hear first-hand accounts of what it is like to actually work in the trade. Ultimately, the employer visits are about the students.
“The purpose of the visits is to highlight the students, who are engaged in discussions about their respective projects,” said Duplessis. “The discussions exemplify the program’s ability to meet or exceed the level of preparation an employer is seeking. It’s important for employers to recognize the inherent strengths of the PMT program at NMCC; the level of preparation via real-world projects sends that very message, and employers leave with a sense of exuberance.”
Duplessis added companies have the opportunity to pre-interview students in their program environment, which is also a benefit to the students.
“The work-like setting makes for a comfortable environment for a student and potential employer to discuss projects, best practices, applications and the like in a way that establishes a level playing field for the student – it’s on their turf,” he said.
Feedback from the employers has been overwhelmingly positive as illustrated by the following email correspondence with Pratt & Whitney.
“The Northern Maine Community College PMT program impressed us with their attention to the needs of manufacturing and the importance of creating a positive working relationship between the employer and the employee. The program curriculum is robust and provides real, industry-style training. Students are knowledgeable, skilled, polite, and highly motivated to do great work.”