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Workforce Strategies

50,000 Jobs in Massachusetts But No One Seems to Want Them

Massachusetts manufacturing will need to replace more than 50,000 retiring workers in the next 10 years, yet no one seems to be available. With a poor reputation as being "dirty, dark, and dangerous," manufacturing is struggling to fill a broken pipeline with a new supply of workers.

Did You Know…?
Did you know that in Massachusetts, manufacturing is the number 1 contributor to gross state product and employs about 250,000 workers? Did you know that the average wage is over $75,000? Did you know that less people quit manufacturing than any other private industry?

In Massachusetts, manufacturing employs:

  • 50% more workers than all the banks and insurance companies in the state,
  • Double the number of workers in wholesale trade,
  • Nearly 3X as many as in information technology, and
  • Nearly 6X as many as in all of the arts, entertainment, and recreation firms in the Commonwealth.

So why can’t we find enough people to fill these positions? There simply aren’t enough people who are interested in working in the field and possess even the basic pre-requisite skills – math, blueprint reading, precision measuring, safety, and work readiness.

Manufacturing in the 21st century is high-tech, computerized, and automated. Workers no longer require a strong back but a strong mind. And we no longer grow up "tinkering" so we lack basic mechanical ability and problem solving. Our kids play video games and small appliances are now made cheaply enough that we throw them out rather than repair them. Even bikes and cars, often a young person’s first experience with tinkering and ingenuity, are assemblies where we change out parts.

What Do We Do?
For starters, everyone who currently works in manufacturing needs to reach out and let people know that it is a vibrant, challenging, stable industry. If you are a shop owner, open your doors and host shop tours so that people can see what manufacturing is and does. Unlike other industries that are depicted on TV, most people still think of manufacturing as a dead end, repetitive job. They don’t know how fun, fascinating, and financially rewarding it can be.

We also need to prepare people to enter the workforce as productive members of teams with the technical skills necessary to succeed in a flexible, fast-paced environment. The Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative (MACWIC), the statewide focal point for employer-led workforce initiatives, has instituted the Applied Manufacturing Technology Certification Pathway.

Industry-Developed, Industry-Recognized Certification
The Applied Manufacturing Technology Certification Pathway is an advanced manufacturing certification program that serves two main purposes. One is to add value and merit to the industry to encourage individuals to consider careers in advanced manufacturing. The second is to create a standard instruction set and evaluation process (which is continuously improved) so that employers readily understand the skill set of an applicant, thus reducing the cost of hire.

This program is designed and influenced by industry leaders, implemented and monitored by an organization with a deep knowledge of the industry, and utilizes existing regional vocational-technical high schools, community colleges, and private and semi-private organizations to deliver training. 

The Applied Manufacturing Technology Certification Pathway had been recognized as an industry-developed, industry-recognized credential.

  • Recognized as an industry-developed, industry-recognized certificate that aligns with the Massachusetts Vocational Technical Education Frameworks,
  • Used as the basis for the Massachusetts Community Colleges Workforce Transformation Agenda Precision Manufacturing competency model,
  • Statewide articulation agreement with the MA Division of Apprentice Standards (vocational high school students who pass Level 2 testing will also be awarded at pre-apprentice certificate),
  • Discussions underway to create a statewide articulation agreement with the Massachusetts Community Colleges to provide 6-9 credits for students who pass Level 2 testing.
  • 90%+ placement rate for those students who achieve Level 3 certification.
  • 26 credits toward an Associate’s degree at Quinsigamond Community College for students who achieve Level 4 certification, and
  • Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) has determined that the Applied Manufacturing Technology Certification Pathway is a quality career pathway, optimizing the progress and success of individuals
Brian Gilmore, Exec. VP of Public Affairs announces $2.5 million grant to Vocational Technical High Schools for MassMEP’s Curriculum in a Box

Standards and Best Practices Support
To better support the Applied Manufacturing Technology Certification Pathway, the MACWIC, along with WPI, made a $2.5 million in-kind grant to the vocational-technical high schools of Massachusetts. Those schools that utilize the credential pathway will be given access to "Curriculum in a Box," MassMEP developed training curriculum to support the MACWIC Level 1 and Level 2 credential. Vocational instructors will have access to MassMEP’s training presentations, participant and instructor guides, workbooks, and tests. "Curriculum in a Box" will help bring an industry-recognized standardization to schools that have different equipment and curricula, and varying levels of instructor experience.

Proctored testing will continue throughout the year.

To augment the training, WPI has allowed the MACWIC to provide seats in LearnCNC, an online virtual training environment that delivers a truly innovative learning experience.  Students will have unlimited access to train and rehearse with flight simulator technology for CNC machining and develop greater confidence and proficiency prior to operating actual equipment.

Get Involved
None of this will matter if manufacturers don’t get involved. Join your local vocational high schools Professional Advisory Committee, volunteer one day a year to increasing the awareness of the opportunities in manufacturing, tell one person that is looking for a career about the pathways available in manufacturing. Join the MACWIC and work with like-minded people and companies to make sure that we transfer the critical knowledge and skills to our current and future workforce.

For more information about the Applied Manufacturing Technology Certification Pathway, call MassMEP at 508-831-7020.