POSTED: April 2015
Andrew Goodwin of Erving, a Franklin County Technical School Machine Technology student, moved from table to table talking with prospective employers, but he was really focused on one company in particular.
“I’m pursuing Starrett,” said the 18-year-old junior. “I know people who work there and they like it and it’s close to my house. I’m just trying to get my foot in the door.”
Goodwin and his fellow Machine Technology students were talking to companies such as L.S. Starrett Co. of Athol at the Middle Skills Manufacturing Initiative Precision Machining Industry Career Fair at Franklin County Technical School. The career fair was organized by Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board’s Middle Skills Manufacturing Initiative.
Some students that attended were hoping to land co-op jobs for next school year, others were seeking potential permanent employment, while others were just gathering information.
“I’m just browsing around and seeing what my options are for co-op,” said Hailey Lowell, 16, a junior from Wendell. “I’m keeping all of my options open.”
Adults that are being trained to operate high tech precision manufacturing machinery as part of the Franklin Hampshire Middle Skills Manufacturing Initiative also attended the career fair. The MSMI program is designed for underemployed and unemployed adults, and has already placed more than 30 graduates at an average pay of $15.95 an hour in precision machining positions at area companies.
Highly trained precision manufacturing employees are in great demand by local manufacturers. Some area businesses have estimated they were turning down up to 90 percent of potential work because of the lack of skilled workers. The FCTS Machine Technology program and MSMI, which also holds classes at the technical school, are designed to fill that need by turning out graduates that are prepared to enter the workforce.
Michael Baines, MSMI Project Coordinator and Manufacturing Marketing Manager for Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board, said the event was designed to introduce FCTS Machine Technology students and MSMI CNC precision machining students to prospective employers in the area.
“It’s a little like a speed networking event,” Baines said. “It’s a chance for students to build relationships with potential employers, fill out a job application, ask questions, learn about their products, and find a company that would be interesting to you.”
Thomas Tourigny, FCTS Machine Technology instructor, said the career fair is a good way for the students to not only become acquainted with area companies, but to get a taste of what it’s like to apply for a job.
“It’s a good opportunity to see real life work situations,” he said. “This is gives them a heads up on what that experience is like. They’re being asked the kind of adult-type of questions that they haven’t been asked before.”
Besides L.S. Starrett, other local companies attending the career fair were Valley Steel Stamp, Bete Fog Nozzle, G.S. Precision, Kennametal, Mayhew Steel Products/Deerfield Packaging, Poplar Hill Machine, Rock Valley Tool, Decker Machine Works, Elite Logistics-Pelican Products, Premier Staffing Services, and Staffing Network.
Maggie Aldrich, assistant human resources manager at G.S. Precision of Brattleboro, Vermont, said one of her managers was a member of the first ever graduating class at FCTS.
“We interview every applicant from Franklin County Tech,” she said. “I’ve always been impressed with the students from here. We’ve hired some and we’d like to see more come our way. We’re always looking for machinists. We’re growing and expanding.”
Kayla Royer, a 2014 FCTS graduate was at the career fair representing Bete Fog Nozzle where she is a CNC operator. She said the combination of Career Enhancement classes and Machine Technology courses she took as a FCTS student were instrumental in her landing the job.
“The Machine Technology teachers also helped me out by telling me what it’s like working in machine shops, what’s expected of you,” Royer said.
Junior Machine Technology student Tyler Elie, 17, of Deerfield, said he had applied for a co-op job at Valley Steel Stamp a few days prior to the career fair. But, he said he is keeping an open mind about his career path after graduation. To Elie, the career fair is important because it highlights the variety of available precision machining jobs.
“I think it’s really good to see what’s out there,” Elie said. “I’m not sure what I’m interested in, but I thought it was cool that some companies do jobs for the government. One company makes drones.”