Manufacturers and Educators Team Up to Educate The Future Manufacturing Workforce

New Jersey manufacturers hosted Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School representatives for a tour of their facilities to help with the development of a curriculum that would provide a stream of qualified workers to the manufacturing section.

Although we are experiencing a high unemployment rate, the manufacturing sector is struggling to find qualified employees.  As an effort to combat the lack of qualified candidates ManufactureNJ, a network of individuals and organizations committed to developing and implementing programs to train the much-needed manufacturing workforce, has been connecting educators with manufacturers in order to learn first hand what is being manufactured in the state, see the process involved and hear from them what skills are needed for these jobs.

Meredith Aronson, ManufactureNJ Director, the Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network, a New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) program, worked with Karen Evanko, Sr. Field Agent for New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc. (NJMEP) to arrange visits to her clients Intense Inc., Vantage Apparel and the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF) for the representatives of Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools (MCVTS).

MCVTS representatives Brian Loughlin, Superintendent; Dianne Veilleux, Assistant Superintendent; Todd Bonsall, Head of Curriculum; Paul Munz, Assistant Superintendent and Dawn Lystad, Director of Adult Education heard from Kevin Laughlin, CEO of Intense, a manufacturer of cutting edge diode laser products, how their products are manufactured and the qualities and skills he looks for when hiring.

Vantage Apparel founder, Ira Neaman, pointed out the complex nature of his labor situation and what could be done to improve it. Vantage is the leading supplier of corporate apparel.
Operations manager Robert Russo of MTF explained, when hiring the technicians, they look for fine motor skills and patience to manufacture their medical devices.

At the end of the day, after visiting three very different manufacturers, the MCVTS team had a much better understanding of the kinds of jobs and skills associated with the advanced manufacturing that is taking place in Middlesex County.

The NJIT­led Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network, (ManufactureNJ) is an industry demand-side driven strategy to respond to current and future employment and education needs within this rapidly changing industry. The program is a New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development initiative to create sector-focused networks to connect industry, education, and public workforce.  The network will be an important change agent to empower an ever growing number of NJ companies and their workforces to effectively integrate advanced manufacturing technologies into daily operations and to do so across a large number of NJ companies not normally thought of as “manufacturers” such as in biomedical devices, pharmaceuticals, engineering technologies, computer and electronics, chemical, transportation equipment, machinery, electrical equipment, and petroleum, to name a few. To learn more about ManufactureNJ visit

NJMEP is a member of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a network of centers throughout the U.S.  The centers are part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The MEPs were created to help small and mid-sized companies improve their competitive position in the market by focusing on five critical profitable growth areas: continuous improvement, technology acceleration, supplier development, sustainability and workforce development. To learn more about NJMEP visit

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