The number of trade jobs available is growing rapidly, but American manufacturers are still struggling to fill them. One of the biggest issues New York State manufacturers face is that it is exceedingly hard to find good workers. There simply haven’t been enough skilled workers to fill all the positions; however, young people’s opinions on working a trade job is changing. Luckily for manufacturers, the next generation of skilled workers will be joining the workforce soon. They just need to finish trade school first.
For decades, working in manufacturing was either discouraged or considered by many Americans to be a poor career choice. The result was a massive decline in the pool of skilled workers from which manufacturers could hire, leading to millions of vacant positions across the country. Nowadays, as they learn more about manufacturing, Americans have begun to realize that manufacturing jobs are available, paying well, and highly fulfilling. Trade school attendance has been rising as students discover that they can invest in their education without having to attend a traditional four-year college. These students are saving money, getting hands on experience, and honing their skills in order to be ready to join the manufacturing workforce immediately upon graduating.
Trade school graduates are in high demand for good reason. They put in the time and effort to become a skilled expert in their field, and they’re ready to get to work. To learn about how manufacturers interact with trade school graduates, and how they can get involved, FuzeHub spoke to Franca Armstrong, Associate Vice President of Workforce Development and Dean of Mohawk Valley Community College’s Rome Campus. We asked Franca to answer a few questions that manufacturers might have regarding trade school graduates.
- Have you noticed a rise in high school graduates choosing trade school over college?
As the gap widens between a shortage of skilled workers and the number of growing trade jobs, trade school is starting to become recognized as a less expensive option for education. The myth that trade workers are not well-paid is just that – a myth – and one that has hindered people from pursuing what might have become their dream job. We expect more youth to enter trade programs as it becomes more well-known that there is a range of opportunities that are open for students who learn a trade.
MVCC is the community’s college, and is committed to offering programs tailored to the needs of the local workforce. Trade programs at MVCC include one-year certificates in carpentry/masonry, mechatronics, airframe and powerplant technology, computerized numerical control, welding, and more. These programs teach students hands-on skills to prepare them for quality jobs immediately after graduation.
- What are the successes and challenges that people face who choose trade schools over college?
Trade programs are increasingly becoming recognized as a fast-track to a good-paying career. Learning a trade allows youth to quickly enter the workforce and bypass the years of schooling and hefty price tag of an advanced degree. We find that students in our trade programs are often very focused and have a clear vision of what they want to become once they graduate. Also, the hands-on experience allows students to graduate with a solid understanding of the work they will have to do in their careers and how to complete it.
Students who learn a trade are also more likely to become employed immediately after graduating. Our Airframe and Powerplant Technology program is a good example. Our students in this program graduate with credentials approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, and they are often hired by major airlines before they even graduate.
- What are the trends that you are seeing in advanced manufacturing?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, trade jobs are experiencing high growth. Carpenters, masonry workers, electricians, surgical technologists, chefs and more are in high demand in the workforce. Currently, the job outlook for several of these positions is much higher than the projected growth for many jobs that require an advanced degree.
Increasingly, advanced manufacturing companies are turning to apprenticeship programs to develop, grow, and retain a skilled workforce. Apprenticeship programs are ideal because they combine on-the-job training with related instruction in technical areas to develop qualified, highly-productive employees for careers requiring diligent skills.
Apprenticeship training ensures workers have the knowledge and competency that companies need for today and the future. I’m proud of the work that Mohawk Valley Community College is doing in collaboration with SUNY and the New York State Department of Labor in the Apprenticeship industry. We are working with the manufacturing industry to provide them with increased opportunities for apprenticeships. Through grants from New York State, MVCC is providing the funds this industry needs for the related instruction in an apprenticeship. We believe that this will help to build high-quality career pathways for the future workforce. The beauty of an apprenticeship is that individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a portable, nationally-recognized credential.
For more information, companies can visit https://www.mvcc.edu/suny-apprenticeships