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RIT Program Helps Fill Skills Gap by Training Unemployed Vets

Solder Training Class at RIT

When Sean Phelan interviewed for a technical trainer opening at the Harris Communication Systems in March, he realized that he did not have all the needed skills in electronics for the job.

But Phelan is now in an electronics training program, Veterans and Displaced Workers in Manufacturing, and when he informed Harris that he was in the program, he was recently contacted by the company about coming in for another interview.

Phelan is hoping that this four-week intensive program will provide the “missing link” to getting a job in electronics — a growing sector of the Rochester economy.

The new program, which is for 20 unemployed or underemployed workers, is run by Rochester Institute of Technology, with all of the participants coming from referrals by the Veterans Outreach Center and RochesterWorks! — a  nonprofit corporation that provides services to the unemployed. The state Department of Labor must also give its OK to each applicant.

What makes the program stand out is it stresses hands-on training, with constant feedback from instructors, and its close ties to local companies that might hire the participants.

“This is to give them a targeted skills set that will permit local industry to grow,” said  S. Manian Ramkumar, who oversees the program as chairman of RIT’s Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology.

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