Manufacturing: Building Tomorrow’s Workforce

by Nora Duncan and Richard Dupont

Connecticut’s manufacturing industry is estimated to need between 25,000 and 35,000 new skilled workers for the state’s 4,100 manufacturing in the next two decades.

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), private colleges and the state’s comprehensive and technical high schools have done a great job getting students interested in manufacturing and trying to meet the need of the our state’s resurgent manufacturing industry.  The demand is such that the demand is outpacing the supply.  The need for instructors is great. It is so great that about a year ago the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at CSCU reached out to AARP CT with a request for assistance in identifying and recruiting retired manufacturers who might consider applying their real world skills in the classroom.

After convening a group of educators, administrators, labor representation and industry who all wanted to find creative ways to bring more instructors to the classroom, a study was commissioned to determine the level of interested in exploring classroom instruction by those working in the field. The high-level findings of the “Manufacturing Instructor Evaluations” include:

  • Interest in teaching exists, but instructor training, supports and guidance are needed;

  • The main reasons respondents want to teach is to give back, build the future-manufacturing workforce, and prepare students for lucrative careers;

  • In thinking about their transition from full-time work, respondents would like their employers to share a variety of opportunities with them including flex-time and part-time work options, teaching, mentoring, and volunteering; and

  • Timing is everything; of those interested in becoming an instructor, about one quarter (27%) would like to learn more when they are nearing retirement, 19% would like to learn more in mid-career, and 18% would like to learn more early in their career.

Real life experience matters and brings a value to the next generation of manufacturers that just cannot be found in books.

In January, we hosted our first retiree recruitment event at the Wallingford Board of Education and 12 retired manufacturers joined us to learn about the array of opportunities available in the classroom. Half of them are still engaged and exploring opportunities from professional mentoring, to lab supervision to a new 3-day program at Central CT State University that helps develop the skills needed to transfer hands-on experience to the classroom setting. The entry points are such that a retiree could earn a little income by working a few hours a week or entirely re-career into a full time position.

Real life experience matters and brings a value to the next generation of manufacturers that just cannot be found in books. Our unique public-private partnership focuses on what is needed to support retirees who have many years to give to the next generation. This effort supports Connecticut’s Advanced Manufacturing Strategic Plan and is a critical driver of our state’s economic future.


Nora Duncan is State Director of AARP Connecticut.  Richard Dupont is Director of Community & Campus Relations for the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport. He is also a member of the American Manufacturing Hall of Fame Steering Committee at the College.

The initiative’s next event will be at Goodwin College on Tuesday, March 26 at 9:00 a.m. Individuals interested in attending should register at