As available jobs increase, manufacturers get that old school spirit

February 20, 2017 - 06:00am

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that hiring in December 2016 was at a four-month high, while the number of manufacturing hires tied that of November for its best monthly performance since 2010. Separately, the BLS said that manufacturing companies created 5,000 new jobs in January for a second straight month of growth.

That’s good news for those who remember the dark days of the Great Recession—but for employers who have more work to be done than workers to do it, it’s a headache. How to find, recruit and train a new generation of manufacturers has been at issue since the baby-boomers started retiring in large numbers.

One solution has been to reach that next generation early—while they’re finishing high shool. quotes Philadelphia’s Thomas Alva Edison high school welding teacher Anthony Rowe as saying that by spring, his phone will be ringing constantly from manufacturers ready to offer $18 to $36 an hour to his graduating seniors. In 2016, “I stopped answering my phone because I had no more students,” Rowe told “We have 100 percent placement.” (More here.)

The approach can also be seen in Worchester, Mass., where the Worchester Business journal reports that the state government worked with school districts and companies to develop a pilot program for a standardized credentialing system that will allow high-schoolers learning manufacturing skills to get college credit.

“The Applied Manufacturing Technology Pathway Certification, is an industry-recognized, stackable credentialing system that standardizes manufacturing skills training through five levels,” reports the Journal. “Anyone—from a high school student looking for a hands-on job or an older worker in need of new skills” can get the certification, which can be put toward a certificate or an associate's degree at the local community college. (More here.)

The thinking appears to be that the easier it is for high-schoolers to succeed in learning manufacturing skills, the easier it will be for employers to fill that growing pipeline of available positions. That's the old school spirit!


Former Senior Editor

Michael Anderson, former senior editor at Cutting Tool Engineering magazine, holds a master's degree in written communication from Eastern Michigan University. He has been professionally writing about manufacturing technology since 1998, including more than 10 years at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.


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