SPRINGFIELD — Advanced manufacturing – the skill-heavy process of making high-tech components for aerospace and defense, medical devices and biotechnology and semiconductors and electronics – is growing fast in New England, and could grow faster if there were more trained workers, according to a new report released Wednesday.
There were 18,000 unfilled advanced manufacturing jobs in New England in 2011 and 2012, according to “Advanced to Advantageous: The Case for New England’s Manufacturing Revolution” a report from the New England Council, a regional business group, and consultants Deloitte. (Read the report below)
Despite a higher cost of living than other parts of the United States and world, manufacturing in New England can stay competitive because of automation and the efficiencies born of many advanced companies clustered in one geographic area, the New England Council said.
Inflation is also driving up the cost of manufacturing in China, leading to the re-shoring of much manufacturing back to this country.
The same report predicts that a total of 105,002 job vacancies will go unfilled in New England over the next 10 years as the industry grows and educational programs don’t keep up. Of those, 43,655 vacancies will be in Massachusetts and 28,453 will be in neighboring Connecticut, also from 2015 to 2025.
To solve the problem, the New England Council and Deloite call for three actions
- Secure a federally funded advanced manufacturing center in New England to serve as a hub for innovation.
- Rebrand the industry and the public’s perception of manufacturing from dirty and dangerous to exciting and safe. The industry should take advantage of the trendy “maker movement.”
- Expand industry partnership and apprenticeship opportunities so that students are increasingly matched with open industry positions and trained in critical skills.
“Wherever you can make the case that manufacturing can provide a career pathway to people, that is really important,” said David Cruise, president and CEO of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County.
The Regional Employment Board has a few ongoing programs educating workers now and in the future. Right now, 62 unemployed or underemployed Hampden County residents are in training.
Also, 106 people already working in manufacturing at 39 companies are upgrading their skills through the Regional Employment Board. They graduate in June.
In West Springfield, the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative is adding a machine technology program starting in the fall.
In Franklin County, the Franklin County Technical School renovated its machine shop in 2013 with help form industry partners and is now training both high school students and adult workers after the school day ends.
Smith Vocational and Agricultural School in Northampton is spending $400,000 to update its machine shop.
In its report, The New England Council cites Westfield State University’s new $48 million science center as an example of the type of public investment needed to keep manufacturing strong in the region.
Other findings from the New England Council Report:
- From 2005 to 2009 in New England, traditional manufacturing suffered a job loss of 13 percent and advanced manufacturing suffered a job loss of 11 percent.
- Following the Great Recession, traditional manufacturing jobs continued to decline and decreased 15 percent between 2009 and 2012, while advanced manufacturing experienced a 7 percent gain in jobs.
- If the vacant jobs were filled in those years, the number of jobs in advanced manufacturing in New England would have grown 12 percent.
- In Hampden County, 59 percent of all manufacturing jobs are in advanced manufacturing.
- In Worcester County, 60 percent of all manufacturing jobs are in advanced manufacturing.
- Of all manufacturing jobs in Hampshire County, 49 percent are advance, and in Franklin County, 48 percent are advanced.