Letter to the Editor: Newport County Mentor Co-Op Group

The following letter was written by Middletown Town Councilor Chris Semonelli.

"I have manufacturing jobs and I cannot fill them with qualified candidates," stated the President of a Manufacturing Company based in Providence.  

The Newport County Mentor Co-Op Group and CCRI President Dr DiPasquale hosted a meeting last month in Warwick , and this is the way that our meeting started, we were gathered to discuss the very successful Asnuntuck Community College Manufacturing program.  

The Director of the manufacturing education program, Mr Frank Gulluni , then proceeded to give an overview of his successful program in Connecticut for the balance of the meeting.  

Asnuntuck College offers certificate programs for high school students, they receive an average salary of $55,000 upon graduation as compared to $35,000 for a typical associate degreed graduate.   Asnuntuck college also offers retraining for employees at local businesses to give them a new skill set to work at their existing businesses, companies such as sikorsky aircraft participate, they generate a source of income with these company funds that helps the rest of their programs.  

The Senedia Skill Gap study identified this Program at Asnuntuck community College as a viable program to model in rhode island , to help give our local high schools students the skills and direction needed for the 21st century.   The Program is so well received in their state , that when it was suggested that their budget be cut in Connecticut ,their director spoke with their corporate partners before the legislative body, and their budget was increased.  

Connecticut has set aside funding and asked other community colleges in their state to develop similar programs .   President DiPasquale has invited the director of the program back to discuss the development of a similar program at the college at the Warwick campus.  

Asuntuck Community College is also developing an early college program, a program by which high schools students , will graduate with an associate degree after 5 years of combined high school and community college classes.   These very successful programs exist in other States and are supported by the Gates foundation.  

The Newport County Mentor/Co-Op Group is also developing an early College Program in Newport County with the assistance of President DiPasquale.  

Future meetings will be conducted to develop the game plan for such a program, topics of discussion will include the need for corporate sponsors, and career segments that should be modeled to help our local area high school students, this program would be offered with the cooperation with the local Newport Campus of the Community College of Rhode Island.  

We need to offer clear Career Paths for our high school students, an Early College Program would be a powerful way to help guide them in their future career endeavors.

Middletown Town Councilor Chris Semonelli


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