Mon, Dec 2, 2013 10:54 AM
RUTLAND - Dan DiBattista, the Plant Manager for GE Rutland, was
the featured keynote speaker at Stafford Technical Center's annual
Legislative Breakfastin the Dollhouse Restaurant, Nov. 19. The
breakfast drew many Members of the House including, Herb Russell,
Peter Fagan, Larry Cupoli, and Doug Gage among others. Rutland
Mayor Chris Louras attended, as well as Mary Moran, the
Superintendent of Rutland City Public Schools.
Stafford Tech keeps their students inspired by creating projects
that retain relevancy in everyday life, ,the Director of Stafford
Tech, Lyle Jepson, said. " We aim to keep kids engaged by
presenting challenges around actual, meaningful projects."
Showcasing the range of projects students undertake, Jepson
introduced the students who developed the Dollhouse Restaurant, as
well as a student from the Digital Arts program, taking photographs
for Stafford's social media sites. By keeping programs relevant,
"Stafford Tech gets kids jazzed up to become fully trained," Jepson
said, adding, "Stafford Tech is an economic bullet in the economic
development of community."
The relationship between Stafford Tech and GE Rutland is crucial
to maintaining economic growth in the region. Over the next three
to five years, GE is going to see 30-35% of its employees retire.
Keynote speaker DiBattista said, "There are a wave of folks who
will be exiting, and that is where STEM comes in."
STEM, which stands for the Science, Technology, Engineering and
Mathematics, is a program that Stafford Tech will be offering in
2014. The new program will aim to fulfill the demand for
high-skilled, high-wage jobs. GE aims to hire and retain local
people who want to stay in the county, but hiring qualifications
are pretty stringent, and prospective employees must have
"The plant has seen a lot of recovery since 2009. Employment is up
by 300 people," said DiBattista of GE's success. GE offers two
programs, a three-year Machinist Apprenticeship Program,
(DiBattista himself did an apprenticeship many years ago, and
still, today, utilizes what he learned), and a Maintenance
Electronic Technician Apprenticeship Program. DiBattista told the
room, "We have to remain competitive. GE Rutland is competing
against other states." He said from a curriculum standpoint, he
can't speak highly enough of Stafford Technical College.
Praising GE's apprenticeship program Jepson said, "All the
training and re-training happens at Stafford." Since 2011 the
number of people employed in manufacturing related jobs has
increased by 2,925 in Rutland County. The pay role is $156 million
per year, and circulates back into the local economy. Jepson told
the legislators, "Don't forget education, and don't forget