WALLINGFORD — Recently retired machinists, plumbers or welders may have a second career ahead of them.
At an upcoming seminar called Your Next Act in Manufacturing, Wallingford Public Schools and AARP are hoping to convince recent retirees to share their skills and experience in the manufacturing industry by mentoring K-12 teachers and college instructors who teach tomorrow’s workforce.
The seminar is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Jan. 22 at Wallingford Public Schools’ administrative offices, 100 S. Turnpike Road.
“We need to get some authentic mentors for our teachers that have recently retired,” Superintendent of Schools Salvatore Menzo said. “That will allow us to increase the extent to which our programs can expand.”
Between the town’s two high schools, students can take classes in manufacturing, robotics, carpentry, drafting and computer-aided design.
“Getting that real world, authentic, recent experience to help supplement what our teachers are already doing, we believe we’ll be able to take it to the next level,” Menzo said.
In addition to mentoring teachers in Wallingford schools and technical high schools, retirees could teach in certificate programs at community colleges.
Representatives from Central Connecticut State University will be available at the seminar for those who want to explore how to transfer hands-on experience to the classroom.
“What we’re trying to do in this program is offer different opportunities,” Menzo said, “depending on the level of commitment that a retiree may want to make.”
Some of the opportunities would be paid.
Ten percent of Connecticut jobs are in manufacturing, said Nora Duncan, AARP Connecticut state director.
According to a study from September 2018 funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, the state’s manufacturing sector lost more than 40,000 jobs between 2002 and 2012, a trend that was stymied by legislative involvement in 2013, addressing the restoration and growth of the manufacturing sector.
Today, more than 13,600 manufacturing jobs are available in Connecticut.
“Connecticut has done a really good job with federal money, and state money, and private investing to educate the next generation of skilled manufacturers,” said Duncan.
However, Duncan added that there’s a shortage of instructors to teach manufacturing classes.
Menzo said he’s hoping to draw 10 to 15 people to the initial seminar. Two more are tentatively scheduled for March and June.
Eventually, he hopes to involve “upwards of 50” people, “but we know that we’re probably going to have to walk before we can run.”
For more information on the seminar, contact Menzo at email@example.com.