We’ve discussed why manufacturing matters in the past. It boosts the economy and offers great pay and benefits to unemployed and underemployed job-seekers. But are manufacturing training programs like AMTEP really effective? According to instructor Chris Speropolous, they absolutely are!
Speropolous has been involved with electronics for decades. He was an engineer for Bell Telephone Laboratories, mentored a robotics team, and is a retired electronics teacher. But while he could spend his time at home painting, he’ll be one of the first to admit he’s not very good at being retired. “I feel like I’m not done yet with the world,” he explains. “I feel like I’ve still got so much to offer.”
When Chris was invited to interview for an instructor position in the Electro-Mechanical Assembly class, he jumped at the chance. Working with two other instructors, a 15-week manufacturing course was assembled. Speropolous created the lesson plans, put together the lectures and homework, and picked out the labs. In the class itself, he teaches the engineering and electronics aspects and makes sure everyone is up to speed
“Between the three of us, it’s a pretty well-rounded program for 15 weeks,” he says, and the success of the course speaks for itself. When his current class wrapped up in May, many of the graduates got positions right out of the program. One of the top students even got offers from two major tech leaders in the northeast. Speropolous added, “It’s amazing the kind of opportunities that are out there.”
The success stories don’t just stop at his current batch of program graduates, either. Thanks to Speropolous, others have been able to find successful careers in the manufacturing industry. “When I was teaching in prior years, I had a student, who was very good at following instructions and a very hard worker; however, he had a hard time learning in a traditional classroom.” Speropolous ran into him again a few years later in an entry level customer service job and recommended that he join the program. As he expected, the trainee excelled in the course and is now building machines worth millions of dollars for a global manufacturing company, using the electromechanical skills taught at the NightHawks Adult Education Program. The student could not be more thrilled that he now has the opportunity to grow in an exciting career.
Another program graduate had originally been working a minimum-wage job. After the training, he was able to get a job building airport equipment at $25 per hour with full benefits. That’s quite the career jump! Speropolous attributes this to the fact that there’s such a demand for labor in the manufacturing industry, and because the program focuses on both the employer’s needs and the strengths and backgrounds of the trainees. “These employers see what [the trainees] know and there’s going to be a demand for them.”
Luckily for those who wish to change their careers and get into the manufacturing industry, there are instructors like Speropolous. “I think there’s a big need for people to be trained at the entry level and be prepared to do these jobs,” he says. “I think it’s wonderful that manufacturing has come back to the country as strongly as it has.”