Recently, a manufacturing trade group estimated there are 600,000 factory jobs available in the US right now. Most of them are skilled jobs, like machining. And most people aren’t qualified to fill them. This problem is called the “skills gap.” And there’s a real possibility that it could grow. Currently, most of these advanced manufacturing jobs are held by Baby Boomers, who are edging closer to retirement. But many of their Gen Y descendents–who were raised on tales of mass layoffs and jobs moving overseas–aren’t betting on the new rise of American manufacturing.
Slowly though, some of these young workers, locked into dead-end jobs or facing long-term unemployment, are reconsidering factory work. Nashua Community College has one of the largest machining Associate degree programs in New England. But that doesn’t mean it’s huge. This year freshman enrollment increased significantly–from 45 to about 60 students. StateImpact recently visited the machine shop at NCC, where we spoke with some younger students about why they’re putting their faith in advanced manufacturing.