The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 18, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Dan DiBattista keynotes annual Legislative Breakfast held at Stafford Technical Center


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 significant training.
"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 technical education."