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New Member Spotlight: Community College System of New Hampshire

For the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH), expanding programs in biotechnology and related fields that support the growing regenerative medicine industry in the state is a natural evolution. “We were involved in the original ARMI proposal through the New Hampshire Governor’s office,” said Ross Gittell, CCSNH Chancellor. “Our expertise sits at the intersection of manufacturing operations and engineering, and our history of creating programs that teach emerging skill-sets will be instrumental in sustaining a workforce pipeline for the biofabrication industry.”

The Community College System of NH is a public system of higher education consisting of seven colleges located across the state serving over 26,000 learners annually and offering over 80 associate degree programs, plus over 120 short-term certificate programs and customized training.

“CCSNH is working with colleges across the country to codify the skills and knowledge required for the manufacture of biomaterials,” he stated. “This new industry will need all manner of manufacturing specialists, from operators for bioreactors, to production and supply chain managers, to equipment technicians, all of which fits within the scope of expertise we’ve established in our advanced manufacturing programs.”

Dr. Ross Gittell, who holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard University, a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Chicago, is well-known in economic and policy circles for economic analysis and forecasting. With an extensive background in university teaching, strategic planning and management, Gittell’s focus has been on applying economic, organizational and management theory to regional, state and community economic development issues. For many years, including as a distinguished Professor at the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore School of Business and Economics, Gittell has frequently been a resource for government, non-profit and business decision makers in New Hampshire and nationally on such issues as economic policy, workforce development, job creation strategies and community development.

CCSNH’s contributions to the workforce training ecosystem go well beyond “traditional” academic offerings.  Employees from scores of New Hampshire companies have upskilled through CCSNH’s innovative workforce training programs.  Many of these companies took advantage of the fact that New Hampshire’s Community Colleges are the preferred training provider for the NH Job Training Fund, a $1 million fund that offers employers 1:1 matching grants for employee training, which frequently takes place at employer worksites.   CCSNH also offers the WorkReadyNH program, a curriculum that addresses foundational workplace and soft skills identified by employers as critical to employee success, such as teamwork, communications and employer expectations. 

CCSNH’s mission is to provide residents with affordable, accessible education and training that aligns with the needs of New Hampshire’s businesses and communities, delivered through an innovative, efficient, and collaborative system of colleges.  With low tuition and priority on access, CCSNH’s programs prepare highly skilled professionals across a range of sectors, and serve as pathways to advanced STEM and Humanities education through transfer agreements with partner institutions including the University of NH and Southern NH University. 

 “CCSNH is working with ARMI members to keep abreast of the skills they see as critical for their R&D and production needs going forward,” Gittell added, “We want to ensure that the pipeline of workers matches current and future needs for the biofabrication area. Fortunately, we start with a firm foundation of well-developed curriculum and best practices in program delivery.  We’ll be looking to continuously update the curriculum in our existing programs in biotechnology, bioengineering, advanced manufacturing, robotics and HVAC technology as the industry evolves and advances. We will also continue to work closely with our partners at the University of New Hampshire to share technological resources, and to maintain optimal transfer pathways to the bachelor’s degree and beyond, for students interested in regenerative medicine who wish to continue their education.”

Gittell said that courses will be available both online and on-site, and that a special emphasis will be placed on outreach to Veterans.  “Our experience with flexible training options for adult learners has included developing programs where Veterans can use the educational benefits they have earned to access training.  Flexibility also works well for other populations, including career changers and high school students. We make ‘K-Gray’ learning a true reality,” Gittell noted.

New Hampshire’s Community Colleges have worked with employers to design and implement skill-specific employee training programs on a wide range of fields.  CCSNH has worked with both small and large employers in the state, with the larger companies including such names as Sig Sauer, General Electric, NH Ball Bearings, Sturm Ruger, Titeflex Aerospace, Associated Grocers, Granite State Manufacturing, Lonza Biologics and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

“We can set up training on site or at one of our seven conveniently located campuses around the state. The flexible programs range from half-day programs to multiple sessions depending on the scope of training and employee availability to fit training alongside their jobs.  We have developed programs for as few as six employees and as many as 1,000.  We have also been able to make  important investments in state of the art labs and workshops that can accommodate classes of all sizes.”  Gittell noted that several years ago CCSNH was the recipient of nearly $20 million from the US Department of Labor to build labs and expand training capacity in advanced manufacturing, an investment that is paying off for the State as it ramps up the new biofabrication sector. 

“All of the colleges within the system are committed to working with businesses throughout the state, and other community colleges across the US, to train and retain employees to develop a robust US workforce across all facets of this new industry,” said Gittell.