Creating a strong middle class through manufacturing

In the past, a manufacturing job meant having enough money to live a comfortable middle-class life. In fact, this is still true. However, the education required of a professional in the industry has changed, and now vocational schools are cropping up to fill the need for learning among people who have chosen to make a life for themselves as professionals who work in factories.

These schools are starting to teach people while many are still young. Mass Live reported on one education center called the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy that provides a vocational education as well as teaching a typical high school curriculum. Alongside math and English are advanced manufacturing and related classes. Students are taught to use heavy machines to cut and polish blocks of metal in a similar environment to the one they would experience in a real factory.

The jobs these kids will be going into will likely begin with salaries between $45,000 and $55,000. Because of the challenge and special training necessary to take on the positions, not many people are qualified to hold the jobs that are currently open. There is actually a shortage of personnel, making the industry a worker's market.

Many of the young people who join schools like this are not interested in manufacturing at first, but once they see the equipment in motion and learn about how much brain power is necessary to use the tools, they quickly become intrigued by the prospect of working in the industry for a living. Additionally, because of the way that manufacturing jobs are growing in the US., there are often waiting lists to enter these vocational schools. Putnam, for example, has a waitlist of 300 students.

Manufacturing on a growth pattern in the US
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, cited by The Hill, manufacturing in the U.S. has increased by 18 percent since 2009 and accounts for over 17 million jobs. The sector makes up 12.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

The U.S. is also competitive with other countries when it comes to building certain products. Because America has some of the most advanced technology in the world, for extremely complex manufacturing projects requiring highly skilled workers, the U.S. is a better choice than Asia or Europe when factoring in the process of moving products across the ocean.

The U.S. also has a large supply of cheap energy in addition to its growing labor force. This is thanks in large part of hydraulic fracturing, which lowers the cost of natural gas and crude oil. With schools on the rise and other factors added to the equation like cost effectiveness, manufacturing will likely continue to grow.