Governor Gina Raimondo was among a panel of speakers who gave words of congratulations and encouragement to 11 students who graduated from the New England Institute of Technology under its Shipbuilding/Marine Trades and Advanced Manufacturing Institute (SAMI) program – one of which was the 200th student to graduate through the job placement program.
“This is all hands on deck, everybody coming together to give people the skills they need to get a decent job,” Raimondo said after the students received their certificates Thursday.
All of the students who participated in the ceremony had either already begun a professional engineering job in Rhode Island or would soon start one. Two of the students couldn’t attend because they were already working.
The SAMI program is a partnership between the state of Rhode Island Department of Labor, New England Tech and more than 100 local employers that are seeking entry-level workers in fields related to the many different types of manufacturing. The program gives students 300 hours of intensive, in-classroom and hands-on training specifically geared towards a job of their choice.
Steven Kitchin, Vice President of Corporate Education and Training for New England Tech, said during opening remarks that SAMI students have an immediate advantage over other entry-level applicants in the field, as they are trained according to specific requirements of the employers who partner with the school.
Kitchin cited the results of a comprehensive study conducted by Drexel University, which concluded that “SAMI participants were substantially more likely to be employed and that their earnings were sharply higher relative to the matched participant group.”
“This is truly a happy occasion for everyone,” he said to the graduates. “It is a milestone marking the conclusion of your individual journey to employment and a better life.”
Spence Fiorey, the 200th student to go through SAMI and be placed in a job in Rhode Island, is a Narragansett native and started off his technical training school experience in a foot cast he earned from skateboarding. On Thursday he was congratulated for already showing promise at his new place of employment, Mahr Inc.
“The reports I’m getting, based on what they’ve seen so far, he’s going to be one hell of an all-around machinist,” said Advanced Manufacturing Training Coordinator at New England Tech Todd Sposato of Fiorey.
Sposato began working for the SAMI program four years ago, and had nothing but glowing things to say about its value, both to the young professionals who have found stable, lucrative employment through its application and the state as a whole.
“One employer that we work closely with said one of the hardest things she can do is hire a qualified entry-level machinist,” Sposato said.
“‘Not anymore,’ she said. ‘We just call SAMI, tell them what I need, they find the right person for me, they train them for what I need them to be able to do for work and they place the person at our job.’
“As you can tell I’m very proud of this program, and the team that I get to work with every day to help people get good, life-changing Rhode Island jobs,” Sposato continued. “I never thought a job could be so fulfilling.”
Raimondo praised the hard work of the students, the collaborative work of Scott Jensen, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor, with local manufacturers and New England Tech and all the employers who have jumped at the chance to bolster local employment in manufacturing.
The SAMI program was a part of the larger “Real Jobs RI” program, which Raimondo said has helped 2,000 Rhode Islanders find good quality jobs in the state. She mentioned that she had a special place in her heart for manufacturing jobs as well.
“Like a lot of people in this room, I benefited from manufacturing because it’s what put food on the table and a roof over my head when I was a kid. My dad had a good manufacturing job, and he loved coming home every day because he worked with his hands,” she said. “There’s a certain sense of pride that comes from making a living making things. So as governor I have done everything I know how to do to support manufacturers.”
The governor urged the students to go forward and continue to progress in the field.
“You have the ticket. You don’t want a handout. Nobody wants a handout. People just want a chance at a decent job,” she said. “And that’s what you’ve got. This certificate you got today is your ticket to a good job and a career in manufacturing. So go out there, make us proud and continue to make things in Rhode Island.”