BANGOR, Maine — There are skilled laborers at Cianbro Corp. with years of hands-on experience in welding and pipe fitting and in other construction skill sets, but who have no “official” training.
Others have been trained by the Pittsfield-based construction company, through the Cianbro Institute, but that training, again, was not backed by any official education program or school.
It’s these men and women that will benefit from a new partnership between Eastern Maine Community College and Cianbro announced Wednesday that creates a pathway for employees to earn an official college degree.
“It allows them to advance their skills set through education and allows us to be more competitive,” Mike Bennett, Cianbro Institute director, said Wednesday.
Employees will be able to earn up to 24 credits at EMCC for their experience and company training toward associate degrees in applied science in either general technology or trade and technical operations.
“We have some nationally recognized curriculum that we use internally,” Bennett said. “The college will portfolio the work experience that they have been able to obtain and give credit for the work” or training.
The associate degree program, which requires a total of 36 credits, was developed by EMCC “as a means for crediting experience gained in the workplace,” a press release states.
Cianbro employees involved in welding and pipe fitting, electrical, building construction and millwrighting will be able to gain credit for their skills through the new program.
The Cianbro Institute, which had trained a number of the company’s employees, “was established to address the skills shortage of human capital in the construction industry,” Cianbro’s Web site states.
“Cianbro realizes that by linking our in-house training programs and recruitment efforts with educational institutions and other partners, we can attract, develop and retain our team members,” it states.
Bennett said the new partnership is a win-win for the parties involved, but also should have far-reaching benefits for the region.
“In the big picture, it’s good for the state of Maine because it shows the importance of business and industry working together with education with the common goals of putting the skills in place,” Bennett said.
Steven Pound, Cianbro Institute associate director, said in a press release that the “agreement provides an outstanding opportunity to help develop the careers of our team members as well as to assist with retention of our work force through showing that we value the work they do.”
Joyce Hedlund, EMCC president, gave accolades to Cianbro leaders for their forward thinking by approaching the college to create the new degree program and said at the Wednesday gathering that everyone benefits from good partnerships, the press release states.
She, along with Ron Turner, EMCC vice president and academic dean and William Dorrity, chair of EMCC’s general technology program, signed the agreement, along with Bennett, Pound and Dwight Littlefield, Cianbro Institute training manager.
“This is another way [Cianbro team members] can continue their education, while still being employed, and get college credit for both of those efforts,” Bennett said.