BRIDGEPORT — Connecticut's 4,000 manufacturers are having trouble finding workers to hire. The University of Bridgeport hopes to help them ease their hiring shortfall.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy visited the university Friday to tour its forthcoming manufacturing training facility. Goodwin University, the East Hartford-based private university operating UB recently received $1.1 million in federal funds for the center.

University President Mark Scheinberg said the college's training center would mirror an existing facility it administers in East Hartford. The upcoming center will offer half-year welding and computer numerical control machining classes. 

“There are so many people with energy in Bridgeport who are just trying to figure out how to get into the game, how to become stable economically,” Scheinberg said. “We can take those students and in a very short period of time give them more than a living wage and really transform, not just their lives, but their family and hopefully the entire community.”

University officials plan for the facility to open this fall. When it does, Scheinberg said the facility would be a “transformational moment.”

There were more than 4,000 manufacturers in Connecticut in 2021, according to a 2022 Connecticut Business & Industry Association report. The group said the state added 12,000 new job openings in January last year, which it said was a roughly 11 percent increase from the previous month. 

Clifford Thermer, dean of Goodwin's School of Business, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing said school officials hope the upcoming center will attract those looking to become machinists, welders, or take on other manufacturing sector jobs.

“People don’t have the skill sets to be able to get these really good paying career jobs,” Thermer said.

The facility, which used to house the University of Bridgeport’s mail center and print shop, can accommodate up to 300 participants a year, officials said.

On Friday, Murphy visited the upcoming training center, viewing plans of a facility that would include classrooms and welding and design lab space.

He said Connecticut’s future depends on the growth of manufacturing that makes use of new technology.

"Reality is manufacturing jobs are coming back to the United States. And that’s happening because of natural economic effects, but it’s also happening because of federal policy that’s incentivizing those jobs to come back," he said. “I don’t want those jobs to just come back to North Carolina and Florida, Texas, I want them to come back to Connecticut. If we want them to come back to Connecticut, we need to have trained workers."