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Amy Greiner: Make way for manufacturing

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Amy Greiner

It’s turn-over time in the manufacturing industry. Retiring workers and a lack of skilled replacements are creating opportunities in the field for people moving into new careers and those looking for advancement in the industry. 

As it stands, the Hudson Valley’s 400 or so manufacturing businesses with 15 or more employees — including electronics, food processing, architectural fabrications, lighting, hardware, signage, building materials and more — provide 46,000 area jobs, along with in-demand goods used by businesses, people and organizations within and outside the region.

Compared to health care, government and retail, all of which employed well over 100,000 each in 2014, the manufacturing industry may be relatively small, but two areas within it, including food processing plus computer and electronic products manufacturing, were named among the 16 industries rated as significant in the Hudson Valley in 2015 by the New York State Bureau of Labor Market Information. 

In fact, between 2015 and 2025, an anticipated 3.5 million jobs in manufacturing will be needed across the country, according to a report by “Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute,” with 2 million of the positions expected to be left vacant because of a lack of skilled workers. Even now, 84 percent of the country’s executives say there is a shortage in talent in the nation’s manufacturing sector.  

Harold King, executive vice president of The Council of Industry, an organization that promotes and supports manufacturing in the Hudson Valley, said although the region’s manufacturing job market hasn’t increased, the skills needed for the work and potential earnings, have. 

“The manufacturing industry job market is changing,” said King. “The industry is becoming more high tech and the jobs are requiring more skills. It means they are harder to fill, but it also means higher wages.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, STEM careers, overall, specifically those involving science, technology, engineering and mathematics, tend to be more financially lucrative than others, as reported by the New York State Department of Labor in 2016, with the median hourly wage for STEM-classified jobs in 2015 almost 60 percent higher than comparable earnings for non-STEM positions. 

Area high schools and colleges have taken note of the coming opportunities in the manufacturing industry and are working to meet its need for a skilled workforce, while opening the way for lucrative careers for people new to the workforce. Pine Bush High School in Orange County, for example, will host a Hudson Valley Manufacturing Career Night with the Council of Industry on Oct. 14 to introduce students and their parents to the potential of pursuing careers in manufacturing. In Ulster County, the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center at the State University of New York at New Paltz has one the most advanced 3D printing facilities in the region and in Westchester County, Westchester Community College has a comprehensive technical program to advance skilled workers to the job market. Student scholarships toward careers in advanced manufacturing also are available, such as Tompkins Mahopac Bank’s Make and Accelerate scholarship program, which, this year, awarded $500 each to one graduating high school senior in Putnam County and two in Westchester County who enrolled in a college program in advanced manufacturing. 

Some area manufacturers are expanding their operations, too, including more good beverage syrup and mixers company and Sloop Brewing microbrewery, both of which have secured spaces for their operations at Dutchess County’s iPark City in East Fishkill, the former IBM site that is being repurposed as a mixed-use community. 

With opportunities for skilled workers opening in the manufacturing industry, a rise in programs aimed at training for positions in the field and businesses investing in their manufacturing operations, the industry’s impact is in the making. 

Amy Greiner is vice president, business development officer, Tompkins Mahopac Bank, and member of the Council of Industry’s Workforce Advisory Committee. Reach her at 845-296-0150 ext.30732, or agreiner@tompkinsfinancial.com.

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