The program seeks to encourage the students and give them the skills to enter the field — whether straight out of high school or by going to a two- or four-year college.
State officials say graduates from the high school program could become machine operators, for example, with a starting salary of $35,000 and a current ceiling around $57,000.
Stryker Orthopaedics, the Mahwah-based medical devices manufacturer; Sandvik Coromant, a Fair Lawn tooling company; Triangle Manufacturing of Upper Saddle River, which makes surgical implants; and Goya Foods of Jersey City are among eight manufacturers on the MechaForce advisory board. Together, they are contributing a low six-figure budget to fund the program, shape the curriculum, and provide advice and workplace visits for the classes.
The Bergen County class follows the first such program, created in 2014 in the Hudson County High Tech High School in North Bergen. Similar programs were launched in Essex and Middlesex counties this year, and they are in the planning stages in Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, Gloucester and Union counties.
Their emergence comes amid growing concern that the state is failing to create a sufficiently trained, and willing, workforce that meets the needs of employers, including manufacturers, in the region.
The subject arose repeatedly at a forum organized by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce last month in Atlantic City on how to jump-start the state’s economy. Speakers cited problems including poor communication between businesses and schools and colleges, and a "misalignment" between the workers needed by employers and the skills possessed by graduates.
Part of the problem for manufacturers, business leaders say, is that the sector now requires workers with high-technology skills, but few young workers enter the field, deterred by the old, grimy image of manufacturing. The shortage is expected to worsen as more baby boomers retire.
"Modern high-technology manufacturing is not what many people have in their heads," said Joann Mitchell, senior project leader at Sandvik Coromant, who sits on the MechaForce advisory board.
For the full story: http://www.northjersey.com/news/business/new-skills-for-a-new-age-1.1425048