Amid perceptions that manufacturing is yesterday’s work, educators and industry leaders say Central Massachusetts’ identity as a region that makes things remains intact. Innovation and production abound, they said, fueled by the area’s diverse and talented workforce.
But just as the regional manufacturing industry thrives on the local educational infrastructure that is training those workers, it is also dependent on it.
“We’ve got kind of an opportunity and a dilemma at the same time,” said Ted Bauer, director of workforce development strategies at MassMEP, a Worcester-based organization advancing manufacturing in the state. Over the next 10 years, he said, manufacturing companies in Massachusetts will need to replace an estimated 100,000 existing workers, and right now that demand is not being met.
“We’re not training students how to operate machines,” said Damian Kieran, a manufacturing professor at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester. “We’re training them how to program them.”