Bennington rolls out work force training
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | December 06,2012
BENNINGTON — A work force training series, which is scheduled to have four seminars in Bennington in 2013 to provide the kind of local training that many employers have identified as necessary to grow their businesses in the area, will be previewed at a free, two-hour event on Friday at 10 a.m. at the Mount Anthony Country Club.
The training will be provided by New Directions, a local firm, in partnership with the Bennington Economic Development Task Force, the Workforce Investment Board, the town of Bennington and local businesses.
Much of the drive behind the series came from Greg Van Houten, president of GVH Studios and a member of the Bennington Select Board.
“Over the last, at least, 10 years, I’ve attended and sent people to these types of workshops. In the past, we’ve had to travel an hour to an hour and a half in any direction for them,” he said.
Having met others from Bennington at some of those workshops, Van Houten said he came to believe similar training could be successful locally.
“With all the things going on in Bennington with our manufacturing growth and what we’re trying to develop with economic initiatives, I just feel it’s one of those things that should be available in town if we’re going to be an economic center for the region,” he said.
According to Van Houten, the seminars are different from other employee trainings in the area because they’re more focused on improving a business’ current work force rather than training potential employees.
Van Houten is underwriting the first seminar, scheduled for Feb. 1. He said he is hoping that his participation will allow New Directions to make local programming viable by bringing participants in and showing them how the seminars will be beneficial.
On Friday, employers, employees or anyone interested in attending can learn more about what is planned for the training seminars. Matthew Harrington, New Directions’ business development manager, said a demonstration of the employee training will be part of Friday’s event.
“One of the things that we’re seeing is that a lot of people, just because they’re short on the dollar and their budgets are tight, they’re needing to ‘see it to believe it, see it to invest in it.’ We can appreciate that. When we were starting to formulate these seminars to kick off in 2013, one of the ideas was, ‘Why don’t we get the organizational decision makers in a room... and convince them by showing them the training and the process,’” he said.
The training series is an attempt to develop a strong employee work force as an engine for future growth. Bennington has several large industrial employers, for example, but at economic development meetings, there have been complaints that those employers have had to go out of the region to bring in qualified employees.
The 2013 seminars will focus on developing supervisor skills, improving work force communication and giving employees a guide to being an asset to their employers.
Harrington said New Directions staff would like to double the number of seminars in 2014 and consider facilitating more technical training if the demand is there.
New Directions has been offering employee development courses for almost 30 years and has worked with clients like Coca-Cola, the U.S. Navy, Plasan, Bennington College, the Bank of Bennington and the Vermont Country Store.