WESTERLY — They are the workers who oversee the production of goods from start to finish. Known as process technologists, they guide the process, in a variety of industries, of turning raw materials into finished product.
According to the Westerly Education Center, it’s a segment of the workforce that is experiencing a labor shortage. The center, which emphasizes workforce development, is preparing to launch a new training program aimed at teaching the skills needed by process technicians.
Interviews of potential students for the no-cost Basics of Process Technology course are scheduled for Monday at 10:30 a.m. at the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale, and Aug. 27 at 10:30 at the education center. Interviews will also be conducted on other days that have not yet been scheduled.
The education center and the Community College of Rhode Island will offer the 10-week, five-day-per-week course, which is scheduled to start Oct. 1. The following 10 employers helped design the course and all committed to hiring students who successfully complete it: Amgen, Roger Williams Medical Center, Toray Plastics (America), Rhodes Pharmaceutical, Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island, Kenyon Industries, Eurofins Lancaster Biopharma, Eurofins Spectrum Analytical, Tedor Pharma and Bradford Soapworks.
The course is intended to cover all the basic skills needed for entry-level work as a process technologist, according to Beth Bailey, spokeswoman for the education center.
“Process technologists are essential,” said Amy Grzyboswki, executive director of the Westerly Education Center, in a news release. “They help create pharmaceuticals — cancer-curing drugs and cutting-edge therapies that extend lives and ease pain. They mix plastics and dyes that are used in clothing, furniture, home décor and toys. They manufacture food and beverages, test materials, and perform many more critical functions in the creation of goods and products. This is a fantastic opportunity to start at the ground floor and build a career in manufacturing items that are necessary to life.”
According to Bailey, few job candidates possess the baseline skills to be hired as process technicians, jobs that do not require a college degree. The retirement of many workers has exacerbated the shortage, she said.
The training will rapidly educate students in several of the disciplines used in process technology, such as chemical processing and government regulations; safety and workplace responsibilities; physical properties and determinations; chemical calculations; handling chemicals; pressure and vacuum; sampling; fluid mechanics and plumbing; computer control and monitoring systems; standard operating procedures; basic electricity; and process operations.
The course, its development, and related equipment are being paid for through a $394,000 Real Jobs Rhode Island grant to the education center from the state Department of Labor and Training. The center also raised more than $100,000 in grants and donations to pay for the build-out of labs that will be used during the course.
Other partners assisting with the course are the University of Rhode Island; Skills for Rhode Island’s Future, a nonprofit workforce development agency; the state Department of Education; Building Futures RI, a Providence-based agency that provides training in the construction industry for low-income people; the Williams M. Davies Jr. Career & Technical High School in Lincoln, and Westerly High School.
To apply online or to book an interview, go to jobs.skillsforri.com or call 401-680-5960.