Manufacturing expo works to woo new generation of workers

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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) America's manufacturing industry is suffering amid a skills gap and workforce shortages, and Vermont is no exception. Our Calvin Cutler looks at an effort in Chittenden County to woo a new generation of workers to manufacturing.

Amid an aging population and a declining workforce, Vermont's manufacturing industry has taken a hit.

Across the country, there are more than half a million open high-tech manufacturing jobs. Some 120 companies like Boeing, GlobalFoundries and Collins Aerospace are all looking for skilled labor.

"We're at that point of disparity where we've got older workforce and all of the younger people are being trained right now, and we haven't filled the gap yet," said Wes McEntee, an adjunct professor at Vermont Technical College.

The Vermont Manufacturing Summit looks to draw in talent for the industry. The expo links students-- mainly from the University of Vermont and Vermont Tech-- with jobs and internships in the aerospace industry.

"It's a great way for them to find out about new career opportunities in advanced manufacturing. Manufacturing matters to Vermont; it's a $3 billion part of our economy," said Chris Carrigan of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

Industry leaders say Vermont's position in New England makes it a hub for high-tech manufacturers from New England and Canada. That's why on Thursday, manufacturing industry leaders signed an agreement making cross-border partnerships easier to forge all the way from Quebec to Connecticut, opening up new markets and job opportunities.

And for young Vermont engineers looking to get their start, they say the diversity of the engineering field draws them in.

Once I started to realize how many fields there were in engineering and how much they offer and they pay, that really brought me in," said Reed Martin, a student at the Stafford Technical Center.