|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] job security
Nine months in trade school. Job guaranteed.
By Parija Kavilanz -at-CNNMoney March 14, 2012: 11:52 AM ET
As demand for high-skilled workers spikes, some manufacturing trade
schools are smashing records and boasting 100% job placement for
With factories on a hiring spree, manufacturing students in trade
schools, such as Alabama's Wallace State Community College are in high
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- As millions of young Americans struggle to land
jobs, students in manufacturing trade schools are sitting in a sweet
spot. They're being hired even before they graduate.
Two weeks ago, students from the manufacturing program in Chicago's
Wilbur Wright-Humboldt Park vocational college attended a local job
"Five of our students were hired in just one day," said lead instructor
Bryant Redd. The new hires are from a class of 41 students who are still
four months away from completing a nine-month advanced certification
program in computerized numerical control (CNC) machining.
In the program, students go beyond basic machining with classes in
computer design, machine shop technology and machine shop math.
Manufacturers in the Chicago area are busier than ever lately, and
they're "begging" for more workers trained in advanced manufacturing
skills like CNC machining, said Redd.
It's not just in Chicago. Factory work has picked up considerably
nationwide, making skilled workers a valuable commodity, said Marc
Smierciak, associate dean of instruction at the vocational college.
$100K manufacturing jobs
"Employers right now need workers with these high-precision skills. But
the mismatch is that most of America's unemployed workforce doesn't
possess these skills," Smierciak said.
So manufacturers are racing to trade schools like Wilbur Wright, one of
only seven schools in Illinois that offer an accredited CNC course, and
snapping up newly-minted factory workers as quickly as they can.
The demand for his graduates is so intense that last year's CNC
graduating class scored a 100% job placement.
"It's a wonderful accomplishment for us," said Smierciak. It was the
first time the school achieved perfect placement in the program's
15-year history. Smierciak expects this year's graduating class to meet
with similar success.
To get into the program, students need a high school diploma or the
equivalent and can go part-time or full-time.
The starting salary for the new hires averages about $40,000 a year,
with the potential to jump to $55,000 to $65,000 in less than two years,
As word spread about last year's record, the school is seeing a rush of
new applications. "We usually enroll 20 students max per year," said
Smierciak. "We are at overcapacity right now with 27 students in the day
program and 14 in the night one."
Some of them are young high school graduates, while others are
middle-aged displaced workers retraining themselves for in-demand
Reynaldo Roman, 21, had been thinking about going to college to study
electrical engineering when his friend told him about Wilbur Wright's
"I did some research on salaries," he said. "After a four-year degree, I
might be getting paid as much or less than I would as a certified CNC
operator," he said.
As the primary income earner in his family, Roman weighed his options,
applied to Wilbur Wright and won a full scholarship to cover the $5,800
"I'm soaking in as much as I can," he said. "I'm hopeful I'll land a job
after I graduate."
Norma Trinidad, 50, lost her 23-year factory job after the company went
belly up in 2010.
Once when she was at the local unemployment office, she saw a flier
touting advanced manufacturing techniques. That got her thinking about
updating her skills, particularly since she had done manual machining
and knew that more manufacturers were looking for workers with
In the past year, Trinidad has acquired five certifications -- some just
took a matter of weeks -- in new manufacturing techniques from another
vocational school. Now, she's Roman's classmate at Wilbur Wright and on
her way to earning three more certifications in high-precision skills.
"I am running out of unemployment. But I'm hopeful to get a job soon,"
American manufacturers importing workers
Jimmy Hodges, dean of applied technologies with Wallace State Community
College in Hanceville, Ala., is also seeing high job placement with his
The school's two-year accredited manufacturing program, costing between
$8,000 and $10,000, includes machining, CNC and a course in tool and die
Hodges, a machinist himself, said Wallace is getting close to placing
100% of its students, too, driven by a pickup in auto and other
manufacturing in the state.
He hopes these stats help change a persistent misconception about
manufacturing. "Young people in the country think manufacturing is nasty
and dirty," he said. "Not so. It's clean, high-tech, and the pay isn't
Hodges' son graduated from Wallace's manufacturing program in 2005 and
landed a $45,000 base pay job with an aerospace maker. "With overtime
he's making much more," he said.
His daughter opted for a four-year degree in education from the
University of Alabama.
Her starting salary as a 5th grade teacher is about $36,000, said
Hodges, adding that she also has $45,000 in student loans.
"My daughter is an awesome teacher," he said. "But who do you think got
the better deal?" To top of page