Stratford, Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft (Booth 7532) has had, since 2002, a goal to create 8,000 new jobs and apprentice positions by 2023. Working with Teamsters union's Local 1150 for about a decade, the Lockheed Martin unit runs an eight-week summer program for students from seven local high schools to help achieve that goal and to help the students learn a trade for employment in the helicopter industry. More than 300 students have participated in this program across multiple trade disciplines.
To complete the Sikorsky Teamsters Career Pathways Program, as it is called, the students work some 680 hours during the summers following their junior and senior high school years. Sikorsky recruits at high schools and receives about 500 applicants each year. In December, the applicants tour the company's headquarters. Students apply online for the summer program, and the state's Departments of Education and Labor handle the selection process.
The hiring rate for those who complete the program is as high as it could be: the helicopter manufacturer offered jobs in 2019 to 100 percent of the seniors who graduated from high school and the program. That meant 12 new employees at Sikorsky. The seniors of 2020, about 30, are all expected to complete the program in the summer of this year.
At the closing ceremony last August for the 2019 summer program, Connecticut's Departments of Education and Labor announced the program’s newly registered Aircraft Manufacturing pre-apprenticeship. Said Rocco Calo, secretary-treasurer and principal officer of Local 1150: “The transition to a certified pre-apprenticeship is the next logical step for our program. Not only will it help us to recruit those students who are looking for industry-recognized credentials, but it helps to bolster U.S. manufacturing by preparing these students to work in any aerospace facility.” Local 1150, which is made up entirely of Sikorsky employees, has represented workers at the company for nearly 60 years, helping to create jobs in Connecticut, Florida, and Alabama.
The August 2019 closing ceremony also celebrated the success of nearly 50 high school students who received critical trade skills working on major products, including the S-92, S-76, CH-53K, Black Hawk, and Combat Rescue Helicopter.
“Advanced manufacturing and the aircraft and aerospace industries are booming right now in Connecticut,” said Kurt Westby, commissioner of the state’s Department of Labor. “This program not only gives students a jumpstart on a great career but is a critical link in preparing our workforce to meet the needs of manufacturers that are creating much-needed economic growth in our state.”
George Mitchell, Sikorsky vice president of production operations, said, “These students serve as a cornerstone of our talent pipeline and success of our workforce, as they help us fill advanced manufacturing occupations.”