NVCC student Richard-Rhett Blair earned a certificate in Advanced Manufacturing Machine Technology this May after a challenging year of balancing school and a full-time job. Prior to coming to NVCC, the Terryville resident worked a series of jobs with long hours, minimal pay, and no path to growth. From working in a warehouse to a gas station, Blair decided after seven years that he needed to come up with a Plan B. He went back to get his GED and enrolled at NVCC. He found the program rigorous: on top of balancing school, work, and paying his bills, the math courses required for the program were quite challenging. But Blair wasn’t alone in his journey, he saw other students in his cohort building their skills from the ground up and this, along with all of the help and support he received from his professors ,gave him some solace. As he continued in the program, he was placed at Modelcraft, a Plymouth-based manufacturer that makes precision-machined parts for the medical, aerospace, and commercial industries. Blair began using his classroom skills on the shop floor, whether it was working with the lathes or the millers or reading blueprints. During this time, he discovered how much he enjoyed working with his hands, working on the floor, and using the machines. Through the Connecticut Department of Labor, he began a pre-apprenticeship program at Modelcraft this past March, enabling him to receive his Journeyman’s card. In the apprenticeship system, proficiency in the job is known as "journeyperson status." A journeyperson has well-rounded ability in all phases of each trade and requires a minimum of supervision. The State’s apprenticeship program stresses participants are “earning while learning,” and according to Connecticut’s Department of Labor the program is “based solidly on an employer-employee relationship.” The on-the-job training, combined with classroom instruction, ensures a well-qualified, job-ready employee. Apprenticeships generally range from one to four years and at completion, the Connecticut Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship Training provides a portable training credential, plus Blair is guaranteed a pay raise.
The recent graduate is happy with the course of his future and he says he’s already thinking of next steps: he is considering going back to get his associate degree. Students working toward an AMTC certificate take classes in NVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, where they will find hands-on access to state-of-the-art machining technology in an environment that simulates an actual shop floor. For more information, visit nv.edu/amtc.