Nearly seven thousand jobs in the Franklin Hampshire workforce region are in the Manufacturing sector, making it the 5th largest private sector industry. In the current tight labor market, demand remains strong in our region for lower-skill entry-level manufacturing jobs, although the overall number or these jobs has declined due to automation or outsourcing.  There is an especially acute need for workers in high-skill areas such as precision machining, and excellent opportunities in areas as plastics and food processing. It takes years to become an expert computer-numerical-control (CNC) machinist, but preliminary education and training can get a job seeker in the door and on the road to a well-paid career. The average overall wage in the manufacturing sector in the FH area is $47, 514, well above the region’s average annual salary of $37,000. Precision machining students completing 12 weeks of training are making $15-$19 an hour to start as a CNC Operator, and many advance rapidly in skills, pay, and responsibilities as they acquire additional on-the-job training and experience.

“My job at VSS has a starting wage that was slightly less than what I had been making as a manager after 19 years of employment at the Gazette. This program and the state funding of it enabled me to put myself on a fast track to a new and better career. I am grateful to MassHire and GCC for the program and to the state legislature for funding it. ” – Greg Harris, CNC Graduate

The Five Year Manufacturing Plan 2019-2023 for the West Region has been developed by the MassHire Hampden, Franklin-Hampshire, and Berkshire Workforce Boards in collaboration and consultation with selected regional advanced manufacturing companies, educational institutions, and state and regional partners.

The Report on Manufacturing Training printed January 2021 highlights the project deliverables in Year 1 of the MassBridge initiative for the West Regoin. MassBridge is an initiative led by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED), and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

The Plan is part of the Regional Planning Blueprint Implementation process and is grounded in using real-time labor market data to inform decision making that will result in the implementation of sustainable and innovative workforce development practices and programs.

Every one of the 40+ precision machine companies in the FH region is looking for trained and/or experienced workers to keep up with replacement needs or, in many cases, growth in their businesses. Just a few examples of steadily-growing or rapidly-expanding companies are Bete Fog Nozzle, VSS, Inc., Decker Machineworks. and Pilot Precision. They are joined by dozens of area employers eager to interview and potentially hire graduates of the FH Manufacturing Skills Initiative. In its sixth year of training and graduating 24-30 entry-level CNC operators/technicians annually, the Project continues to have an average 83% placement rate.

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Manufacturing Career Pathways Graphic

Key Businesses

  • Smiths Interconnect

  • VSS

  • L.S. Starrett

  • Yankee Candle  

  • Sisson Engineering  

  • L3 KEO

  • Pelican Products

  • SWM International

  • Coca-Cola  

  • Judd Wire

  • Berry Plastics

  • Packaging Corp of America  

  • BETE Fog Nozzle, Inc.

  • Pilot Precision

Requirements Sought

  • Strong work ethic / Trainable

  • Math Skills

  • CNC operations / Programming

  • Metrology & Geometrics

  • QA competencies

Key Partners

  • Greenfield Community College

  • ABE / ESOL Partners

  • High school guidance counselors for links to non-college-bound seniors

  • FC Community Development Corp.

  • Rapid Response Manufacturers

Talent Gaps

  • CNC Machinists

  • Quality Inspectors

  • Engineers – Mechanical, Electrical, Applied, and Industrial

  • Extruder Operators

  • Welders

Current and Past Accomplishments

MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board is proud of the work we’ve done to increase access to training programs for a variety of manufacturing employment opportunities in our region:

  • Manufacturing Skills Initiative (MSI): In partnership with an array of private sector manufacturing businesses, Greenfield Community College (GCC), and Franklin County Technical School, this multi-year project is providing a series of 80-hour and 160-hour training sessions in Foundational Manufacturing (4-week classroom) and advanced CNC Operator (8-week hands-on machine shop) manufacturing training.  The FHWB plays a key role in engagement of employer partners, and recruitment, assessment, interviews, coaching and job placement of candidates. To date, nearly 40 employers and over 160 job seekers have been served through this program, with an overall placement rate of over 83%. Current fund sources include state grants from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and federal WIOA Training funds for eligible participants, and some individual scholarships from GCC.

  • BayStateWorks: 4 manufacturers; training in CNC, PLCs, lean manufacturing, blueprint reading, CAD, Supervisory Skills, Spanish for Superivisors; training via GCC, STCC, MassMEP; substantial incumbent worker training needs addressed; identification of pipeline issues

  • Mid– Mass STEM Pathways Initiative: Three Year DOL grant to increase STEM talent resulting in 158 participants, 10 Degrees, 78 Certificates, two new internship efforts at GCC/ FHCC and 89 jobs, 37 of which were in manufacturing.

  • Mass MEP Mobile Outreach Skills Training (MOST): recruitment, readiness, and vestibule training in mobile unit leading to job placement; MassMEP, and Career Center; dozens completing training placed in jobs; on-going.

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