Experts are taking a close look at one type of occupation heavily in demand: vocational jobs. A new survey found that in 1,600 U.S. manufacturing companies, almost half have job openings. These openings are for various positions, such as line workers, skilled trade workers, engineers, and more. Unfortunately, since these small- to medium-sized companies are having trouble filling open positions, a new movement has been brewing where manufacturers are now entering the education field to help solve this crisis.

One such program is the Second Chance Partners, which teaches high school students vocational skills and matches them with local manufacturing businesses. Tailored Label Products, in Wales, Wisconsin, has joined with Second Chance and has even turned part of their building into a classroom. The 2000 ft. space was outfitted by the company and now trains 10-15 students each semester. Students also apprentice and follow a mentor through various departments, learning skilled, and unskilled tasks.

Second Chance Partners began in 2000 and has seen over 150 students complete its program. More than 50% of those graduates continue on with one of Second Chance’s business partners, 29% carry on with their education, 5% continue to apprentice, and 4% join the military. In all, 90% graduate through the program, stated Stephanie Borowski, who is the Executive Director at Second Chance.

Second Chance is only one of many training partnerships. BuxMont Manufacturing Consortium is another partnership that was formed by 50 manufacturing companies, 2-year colleges, and trade schools in Pennsylvania’s Bucks and Montgomery counties. This partnership focuses on people attracted to science, engineering, and those who work well with their hands. Many of the skilled workers within the Consortium make between $35,000 to $50,000k yearly and have the options of overtime, health care, and a company matched 401k.

These U.S. companies are helping to assist in the establishment of vocational schools. “The trades are not just about swinging a hammer anymore; they involve applying brainpower and advanced education,” states Ira S. Wolfe. Wolfe is part of Success Performance Solutions, which assists small businesses in recruiting employees. He is a proponent of the new training partnerships that are popping up all over the country.

For more information on Second Chance Partners please visit:


Coy, Peter, “If There’s Any Labor Shortage, It’s for Medium Skills,” Jobs, Small Business. Bloomberg Businessweek. 6/7/2012. (7/5/2012).

Klein, Karen E., “Worker Shortage? Teach Teens Manufacturing Skills,” Manufacturing, Small Business. Bloomberg Businessweek. 7/5/2012. (7/6/2012).

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