There it was again, on the front page of Sundayâ€™s Bristol Press - the urgent need for more skilled workers in manufacturing. Entry level jobs paying twice the minimum wage and still going begging. Big companies stealing employees from smaller ones. Workers who, in the words of Justin Malley, executive director of the Bristol Development Authority, â€śbecome, in a way, free agents who command a lot of interest.â€ť
So, hereâ€™s the question: If the field is so attractive, why is there a shortage?
Could it be that our high schools are placing too great a value on sending graduates to four-year colleges, while failing to get the word out about courses at community colleges that would lead to a career in manufacturing? Could it be that many middle schools, especially those in the suburbs, never tell parents about the opportunities available at the stateâ€™s technical schools? Or that some grads do go on to college, for advanced training.
After all, these arenâ€™t the 20th century manufacturing jobs where, over and over, untrained workers added a single part to a car or appliance built on an assembly line. These are highly technical jobs requiring more computer skills than muscle - perfect for that kid who canâ€™t seem to get his or her head out of a screen
More and more, local manufacturers are working to get the word out but we think that schools could do more.
Perhaps, aided by President Trumpâ€™s new focus on the importance of manufacturing, educators can show more young people that itâ€™s an occupation with a clear path - to a comfortable, middle-class life.