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Employers, Officials Seek to Boost Manufacturing Sector

Posted on November 28, 2012

Editor’s Note – Brian Gilmore is Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at AIM and a member of the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative.

ManufacturingEmployers, state officials and academics met yesterday to ensure the growth of manufacturing in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative (AMC) held its first formal session in Boston after being formed by the Patrick Administration and endorsed by the Legislature to enhance the competitiveness of Bay State manufacturers.

The Collaborative has several objectives:

  • Elevate public understanding of the capabilities and potential of advanced manufacturing in the commonwealth;
  • Expand the ability of the state’s educational system to respond to the entry and mid-level skill needs of manufacturers in the state;
  • Improve access for small-to-mid size manufacturers to technical assistance that supports manufacturing growth, including access to business credit, workforce development, compliance certification, export assistance, and innovation
  • Ease the cost of doing business in the state. 

The Collaborative used its inaugural meeting to hear progress reports on each of those objectives. The group also spoke with Lt. Governor Timothy Murray the merits of conducting an Advanced Manufacturing Summit in the spring and discussed the results of a new study that indicated a need to fill nearly 100,000 manufacturing jobs during the decade as older workers retire.  

Manufacturing jobs totaled 250,656 in the first quarter of 2012; health care and social assistance jobs topped the list with 515,047 and the retail trade came in second with 343,312 jobs; Professional and technical services jobs totaled 260,791 and accommodation and food services had 252,280 jobs, according to figures from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

Many people are stuck in an “old cognitive map, thinking of manufacturing as old smokestack businesses that lack appeal for younger workers,” said Barry Bluestone, a professor at Northeastern University.

“This is a problem we have,” Bluestone told Statehouse News Service. “We are so focused on going to college and getting a degree in finance and health sciences, we forget there are 10,000 jobs a year in manufacturing.”

In a survey of manufacturers, approximately two-thirds said they expect to expand their businesses in the near future, something that could prove difficult if they cannot find workers, Bluestone said.

AIM has a designated seat on the Collaborative, and will participate with representatives from several AIM member firms, including Raytheon, NYPRO, the Custom Group, Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and Universal Plastics.  Manufacturing employers with ideas for the Collaborative should contact me at