REGION – Surrounded by employees at the Twincraft Skincare’s liquids manufacturing facility today in Essex Junction, Sue Minter unveiled more details on her InnovateVT economic plan. InnovateVT focuses on growing four key sectors of the Vermont economy: clean energy and efficiency, farm and forest production, the tech industry, and next generation manufacturing. Minter’s announcement today focused on growing next generation manufacturing.
“Too many Vermonters are struggling to afford to live here; wages are not keeping up with the cost of living. Vermont needs a leader who will work across sectors to create a 21st century workforce, livable wage jobs, vibrant communities and an economy that helps young people stay in Vermont. That’s why I’ve proposed InvestVT and InnovateVT. Today, I’m happy to provide more detail about how to support one of our cutting-edge industries, advanced manufacturing,” Minter said at the event.
Minter was introduced by Twincraft Skincare co-owner, Michele Asch, who explained why she was proud to support Minter.
“Sue is the only candidate with a detailed plan to attract and grow innovative companies,” said Michele Asch. “Sue’s InvestVT and InnovateVT plans show that Sue has what it takes to work across sectors and listen to leaders to help our businesses grow and make our communities strong.”
Details of InnovateVT plan:
Manufacturing and its supporting supply chain businesses are major drivers of Vermont’s economy and help support the middle-class. Average annual earnings in manufacturing are 36 percent above the statewide average; over $50,000 in manufacturing versus $38,000 on average. Not only do we need to find innovative ways to educate the next generation of Vermont workers, but we need to ensure our youth recognize these great career opportunities at an early stage and get excited about being the next generation of manufacturers for this new economy. As such, the majority of this next generation manufacturing plan is focused on building a talent pipeline from our schools to employers.
At the K-12 level: Currently many manufacturers are finding that candidates who begin training, lack the math skills they need. There is still more we can, and must, do in terms of integrating Science, Technology, Engineering and Math into our K-12 education curricula. We need to appreciate and anticipate different learning styles, and ensure that every Vermont child has a personalized learning plan.
At the postsecondary level: The Vermont Promise program will provide Vermonters with two years tuition-free education and training at Vermont Technical College and Community College of Vermont to ensure that we have a cutting-edge workforce for next generation manufacturing positions. Our community and technical colleges are already offering education and training in a number of advanced manufacturing certificate and degree areas. For example, the Certified Production Technician certificate is an industry-recognized credential that is delivered on the floor at Global Foundries. Vermont Promise would support students interested in pursuing high-value, industry-recognized certifications that may lead to an associate’s and bachelor’s degree.
Developing real world experience: We will consider restructuring the Vermont Training Program, which provides opportunities for students ranging from middle school to post-secondary education with opportunities to train in Vermont factories. These opportunities are a win-win as they provide young Vermonters with valuable real-world experience and business with an opportunity to train workers at low cost.
Supporting young women: Occupational segregation is a major driver of Vermont’s wage gap. Women still work in the same fields that they worked in 40 years ago. This segregation begins at an early age, when young women are far less likely to complete trade and technical programs. The Minter Administration will use the mentoring program incorporated in Vermont Promise to help support young women and encourage them to continue in nontraditional technical and manufacturing fields.
Ensuring trainers have resources they need: Small investments can often pay dividends when it comes to ensuring that training facilities have the equipment needed to build a modern workforce. The Minter Administration will find ways to ensure that the Vermont State College System, manufacturers operating under the Vermont Training Program, as well as generator spaces are equipped and ready to train our workforce on advanced technologies and methods
Develop a Pilot Next Generation Manufacturing Microgrid Hub: Vermont already has the second lowest electricity costs for manufacturing in the region, but we can do even better. The Minter Administration would seek to work with RPCs and private developers to create a pilot-manufacturing cluster that would operate on a microgrid with electric storage capacity. These clusters could easily be connected to alternative energy sources and could have the advantage of:
Decreasing the cost of power for manufacturing within the cluster by reducing infrastructure needed for transmission and line loss, and also by increasing efficiency of power used via microgrid and storage technologies.
Increasing supply chain resilience by providing some emergency power backup.