Over the next 10 years, more than 44,000 jobs in the precision manufacturing sector will go unfilled in Massachusetts, due to a lack of qualified workers, despite the fact that the average salary in this industry can approach $75,000. Historically, Western Massachusetts has been left out of the red-hot economy in the eastern part of the state. Part of that problem is a gap between the number of well-paying, stable manufacturing jobs and the number of local residents who can fill them.
Senator Eric Lesser has proposed an idea to provide advanced manufacturing training to unemployed and underemployed individuals, including veterans, to build a locally based, highly qualified manufacturing workforce across Massachusetts, particularly in the western Massachusetts where manufacturing was the key employer for 10 generations. The precision manufacturing pilot program is already operating in Western Massachusetts and has resulted in an exciting partnership between the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, Inc. and the Western Massachusetts Chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association. Together these organizations are working with local community colleges, vocational schools and advanced manufacturing companies to train unemployed and underemployed individuals, career changers and youth across the region.