(North Central, MA) – The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and its economic development affiliate the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation (NCMDC) today released a report entitled “Build North Central: Promoting the Industrial Heart of Massachusetts.” The recommendations developed by a taskforce of the region’s premier manufacturers focuses on steps the region and state can take to address their workforce challenges and fuel economic advancement throughout the region.
The report highlights a mix of both programmatic and policy related recommendations and strategies focused around workforce and education, regional cooperation and regional promotion. In addition to manufacturers, the Chamber and NCMDC also sought input from education and workforce leaders to produce this report.
“Aligning and integrating our educational system with the needs of employers must be a priority if North Central Massachusetts is to compete and prepare the workforce of tomorrow,” said Ray Martino, President & CEO of Simonds International and Chair of the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation. “Too many manufacturers today are having difficulty finding the qualified and skilled workers that they need, and the problem will only get worse if we are not ready with new solutions for the coming years.”
“We are excited to put forward these bold recommendations to strengthen our education and workforce systems for the benefit of both our students and employers,” said Roy M. Nascimento, President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. “We hope that this will be a useful resource for discussions around education reform in Massachusetts.”
Some of recommendations highlighted in the report include creating career pathways; a greater emphasis on both college and career readiness; expansion of career exploration programs into the middle schools; introduction of high school credentialing courses; increasing the labor pool by attracting more workers to the region; and expanding technical education in both vocational and conventional high schools. To view the full report, please visit www.NorthCentralMass.com
With over 440 firms, North Central Massachusetts boasts the largest concentration of manufacturing in the state. One in every four private jobs in the region are manufacturing jobs, with one third of all private wages in the region directly related to the sector. Manufacturing firms in North Central Massachusetts range from the world class plastics industry cluster, to pharmaceuticals, photonics, paper, and biomedical devices to name a few.
Manufacturers today are some of the most well-paid, highly trained and in demand employees in the workforce, operating advanced equipment and technology. However, many manufacturers have been unable to recruit the workers they need. Despite the high wage potential and increasing employer demand, there is both a need for more young workers and a skills gap among an existing and a transitioning workforce. Nationwide, 75% of employers report difficulty filling positions, with the problem being particularly acute in manufacturing. The challenge is expected to grow, since the average age of a manufacturing employee in North Central Massachusetts is 55 and young people typically rank manufacturing careers dead last due to false perceptions of the industry. If these individuals are unable to train replacements prior to retirement, the skills and experience they take with them will be lost permanently.
The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation remain committed to supporting and growing this critical sector of the region’s economy. The organizations convened the taskforce to address workforce issues and provide a unified vision for improving the workforce pipeline. The organizations are working with partners to address this skills gap, retain the region’s young talent, and introduce them to the high-tech, high-skilled, and high-paying careers of the modern manufacturing industry. The Chamber believes that building successful education partnerships between businesses and the region’s schools is critical to collective, on-going efforts.
To read the full report click here