Computer company and college team up to improve employee skills

"The major obstacle to continued economic growth in the hi-tech industry is a limited supply of trained workers," reads an economic report from the Massachusetts State Office of Economic Affairs.

The Honeywell Corporation and Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) hope the report will soon be outdated, for Honeywell at least. The reason -- a worker training program called "classroom in the factory."

Initiated jointly by BHCC and Honeywell, the classroom in the factory involves a partnership between the community college and Honeywell. The goal of the program is to train Honeywell employees to become skilled technicians on a full array of Honeywell's family of small computer systems and terminals. Upon completion of the seven-month program, the trainees will receive both a certificate from Honeywell and 35 full college credits from BHCC.

Conducted at Honeywell's facility in the Brighton section of Boston, the pilot project enables 20 employees to attend classes Monday through Friday for four hours and then spend four hours working. Full pay for a 40-hour workweek is received.

The project is being watched closely throughout the region.

As a result of the program's implementation, several benefits are derived by both BHCC and Honeywell.

For Honeywell, the benefits included:

* Implementation of a cost-effective training program.

* The ability to deliver accredited courses to its employees.

* Creation of an "earn while you learn" capability for interested and qualified job applicants.

For the college:

* Increased student registration.

* A demonstrated ability to meet industry's needs and reach new market segments, specifically the adult working population.

* A demonstrated ability to offer cooperative industry/college programs (a valuable prerequisite when seeking state and federal funding sources).

Because the training program is a cooperative venture, Honeywell and BHCC share the costs. Supplies such as textbooks and microprocessor equipment are funded in part by a grant from the Massachusetts state Division of Occupational Education and in part by Honeywell, while the instructor's salary is shared by both Honeywell and BHCC. Honeywell provides the test equipment to be used in the classroom.

Stephen G. Jerritts, president of Honeywell Information Systems, says, "From our perspective, the Honeywell/Bunker Hill Pilot Technician Program represents a milestone in the continuing improvement of relations and cooperation between business and the state government in Massachusetts."

Program director Paul Haitas sees the program as "an excellent vehicle that Honeywell employees can use to accelerate their progress along various career paths. Though the workload is extensive, so are the rewards."

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