Manufacturing Apprenticeships to Benefit New Jersey

manufacturing apprenticeshipsIn any successful business, after a demand is established from the consumer, you cannot increase revenue without increasing production. It’s a simple relation of the law of supply and demand. But it can be difficult to increase production without an influx of skilled employees, which can be the case in the manufacturing industry. An effective way to resolve this matter is through manufacturing apprenticeships.

Manufacturing apprenticeships give students and future employees a learning experience inside the trade; it acts as a paid training program. Max Daetwyler Corp. was recently featured in an article on TechTarget’s website for participating with 5 other North Carolina Manufacturers in a program called Apprenticeship 2000. This program is “a four-year program of community college classes in mechatronics and advanced manufacturing coupled with paid worksite apprenticeships”. What makes this program stand out above other manufacturing apprenticeships is that they have an extended eight-month interview process where students attend an open house and an orientation to be evaluated on their skill level. After review, the accepted students will participate in the six-week summer trial period and if qualified, will be offered the apprenticeship. It is a long process but it insures that the program is a good fit for the students and that the students are a good fit for the program.

Apprenticeship 2000, as well as other manufacturing apprenticeships, bring great opportunities for companies; especially for those looking to hire more skilled employees and expand their company. Once manufacturers in New Jersey have established a registered apprenticeship program, the sponsoring companies would be able to hire skilled employees that they personally train on their equipment and machines. And students will have more incentive to not only continue with the trade post-graduation, but inspire students to enroll in manufacturing programs. New Jersey manufacturing could highly benefit from programs like these.

Evaluation / Industry Needs Committee Prepares for North Jersey TIP Meeting

Evaluation / Industry Needs Committee Prepares for North Jersey TIP MeetingOn Thursday March 2nd, the Evaluation/Industry Needs Committee, a part of the North Jersey Targeted Industry Partnership (TIP), met following up from the last committee meeting on January 28th. The committee consists of a group of manufacturers and educators that have come together to define the manufacturing industry needs and evaluate the current manufacturing programs in place. They work together with the two other committees in the North Jersey TIP to develop entry level workers, increase qualified employees, and build capacity.

At the last meeting, the committee continued to brainstorm a list of basic skills needed for entry level manufacturing positions. It is interesting to collaborate with the educators and discuss what manufacturers are looking for in their entry level positions, while comparing it to want is being taught in the education programs. The committee also continued to develop a questionnaire for manufacturers to gain insight on the needs of the industry as well a consensus for the basic skills required in the industry.

The meeting on March 2nd began with the committee finalizing the entry level basic skills list and questionnaire. The committee is looking forward to hearing from the manufacturers as there cannot be any development without the input of the other manufacturers. The group is also looking forward to establishing their next project of developing a list of the basic skills for maintenance mechanics positions. The entry level basic skills list is geared towards the high school education level but the committee felt that a separate list should be developed for the maintenance mechanics as this is an industry need geared towards the secondary education programs.

We cannot express enough how important it is to hear from manufacturers. This committee needs to hear from those in the field to be able to bring accurate data to the other committees within Evaluation / Industry Needs Committee Prepares for North Jersey TIP Meetingthe North Region TIP. We are hoping that the Pathway Development Committee will be able to take our list of entry level basic skills to help develop and inform the North Region counties of the high school manufacturing education opportunities. And also to bring the information gathered from the questionnaire to the Marketing Outreach Planning committee to assist in their marketing to parents and the state promoting the opportunities surrounding manufacturing education.

The Evaluating/ Industry Needs Committee is excited to bring what they have worked on to the North Region Targeting Industry Partnership Meeting on March 9th. Everyone is off to a great start but it is not too late to join the efforts. If you are interested in getting involved or would like to know more, please email Larry Taitel at We need your help to make a difference in the manufacturing industry!

Are Children’s Toys the Introduction to the Manufacturing Experience?

children-2009819_1920Where does the manufacturing experience begin? You could follow the timeline back to high school machining class or even further back to helping your parents fix the kitchen sink or simply when you learned how to use a screw driver. The manufacturing experience can begin as early as a toddler playing with toys. Children’s toys are designed with a purpose. They have the ability to help with memory, build motor skills, and problem solving. The toys also allow children to create and build things. Whether they are building a stack of blocks or a wall for their play house, children are gaining the cognitive thinking skills they can develop as they get older.

Building blocks are among the most basic of children’s toys but have a large impact on a child’s learning environment. Fisher-Price’s Brilliant Basics™ Baby’s First Blocks are the perfect introduction to the manufacturing experience. This toy has different shaped blocks for children to stack and build. What makes this toy interesting is that it also comes with a storage bin with holes in the lid that match the blocks’ shapes. This allows for children to develop their problem solving skills and cognitive thinking by fitting the shapes through the holes on the lid. Children are beginning to make the hand-eye connection at 6 months; the same connection that is made between a screw and a flat-head screwdriver or a wrench and a bolt.

child-1864718_1920The manufacturing experience only expands from there. Take Lego, for example. Everyone has played with Lego blocks. They come in different shapes and sizes for many different age groups. Lego kits have step-by-step instructions that when followed correctly allow you to create something like a skyscraper or even a car. Children are essentially following blueprints to build things with their hands. This is a fundamental skill in manufacturing and engineering. And although it may be a child’s toy, some of the Lego blueprints are very elaborate. Lego has a 558 piece kit to build the StarScavenger™ from the Star Wars movie for children ages 8-14. Children are following the blueprints and in the end have a something they can hold in their hand that they created.

So how do we know we like to make things? The passion for creating things begins when we are children. Some children like to draw, some like to play house, and some like to build things. This is where the education process can begin. Children are enjoying what they are doing and learning for themselves before they are in a classroom setting by playing with the simplest of toys. The manufacturing experience is all around us at any age. Where it begins may be up for debate but it’s up to you to make the connection.

Passaic County Technical Institute Leads The Way With Their Manufacturing Technology Program


Passaic County Technical Institute’s Manufacturing Technology Machine Shop

In the state of New Jersey, once students are at the high school age, they have the opportunity to begin their career path by enrolling in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) high school. At the CTE high schools, along with the core high school curriculum, students learn a specific trade, like manufacturing technology. Unfortunately, manufacturing programs are not offered statewide. Manufacturing Technology programs should be implemented throughout New Jersey CTE high schools because there is a high demand for jobs in the field and many opportunities for students post-graduation.

Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, New Jersey, for example, has an exemplary Manufacturing Technology program for students interested in a career in the manufacturing industry. Every year, out of numerous applicants, only 18 are accepted into the program. With the smaller class size and the program’s two certified educators, the students have a more individualized learning environment. And the students have access to technology and machines that are used in the field, giving them more exposure and training with the equipment they will be using once they graduate.

During their first year in the program, the students will learn the responsibilities of a job in the manufacturing field and get hands on experience with the tools. Their second year is where they begin to work with the manual milling and lathe machines. By giving them the experience with the manual machines first, the students gain a better understanding of how the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines operate and function when they work with them during their third year. In their final year, the students will continue to work with the CNC machines and also participate in Co-Op programs, where they work in the field while they are still in school. The four year Manufacturing Technology program gives students the knowledge to be able to make products and practical designs; an experience they can build upon.

During their time in the Manufacturing program, students have also had the opportunity to work on professional projects before they graduate. Through the Passaic County Technical Institute’s partnership with High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH), students were able to design and prototype projects using materials, equipment, and mentoring from NASA. As stated in a press release, “Manufacturing Technology students were tasked with the challenge of utilizing their skills to lathe a screw sleeve for a stowage locker for the International Space Station – one of fifty-one parts manufactured directly by students of the HUNCH program.” To read more about the opportunities this partnership brings to Passaic County Technical Students, please visit

The Manufacturing program at Passaic County Technical Institute gives students a foundation to take wherever they would like to go. Once they complete the program, students can begin working right away since they now have the knowledge and training experience with the tools and machines. If they would like to continue their education, they have the opportunity to go to a community college and pursue an Associate’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. Or they also have the option to continue their education further and can pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. Passaic County Technical Institute is just the beginning.

Passaic County Technical Institute offers an exclusive Manufacturing Technology Program that gives students the familiarity and experience with the different types of equipment in the manufacturing field. Having a Manufacturing Technology program like the one at Passaic County Technical Institute incorporated into CTE high schools statewide would be beneficial. A career in manufacturing technology is one filled with opportunities and is important work that all students should have the opportunity to pursue.

To learn more about Passaic County Technical Institute, visit their website

Meeting with the Morris County Economic Development Corporation

Morris County ManufacturingOn December 6th, Convertech Inc. attended a meeting with representatives from The Morris County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC).  The MCEDC is a division of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce focused on helping Morris County business “navigate the maze of commercial, industrial and governmental regulation” and “help build successes, quickly and efficiently”, as stated on their website. The group came together to engage in a discussion on how to expand the manufacturing education programs in Morris County. By expanding and introducing manufacturing programs in schools in Morris County, Convertech Inc. as well as other manufacturing companies in the area will be able to hire more qualified employees, expand their shops, and increase production.

There are many students enrolled in manufacturing programs statewide. But there are more manufacturing opportunities in other counties than there are in Morris County. Passaic County’s CTE School has a manufacturing program designed for students to work with different manufacturing tools and equipment. The program gives students the experience needed to work in the multiple aspects of the manufacturing industry. Morris County’s CTE school has an Engineering Design and Advanced Manufacturing program that was developed in 2015. However, the program is a two-year course taken at the County College of Morris. As mentioned in an article on  County College of Morris’s website, the students focus on “basic engineering graphics, computer-aided drafting, materials for engineering technology, technical computer applications, mechanical prototyping, and electricity and electronics”. This program is a great opportunity for students however the course is geared more towards engineering than manufacturing machinists.

It is very interesting that the counties do not have the same manufacturing education opportunities.  Especially since they have almost the same number of Manufacturing Firms in each county. According to the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, in 2015, Passaic had 850 firms and Morris had 812 firms.

There is less exposure of the manufacturing technology trade in Morris County’s education system, but Manufacturing is an important job. By pursuing manufacturing technology education, students can open the door to a career right after completing the program. And going to college is still an option for those students as well. Convertech Inc. looks forward to working with the MCEDC to help gain more exposure of the manufacturing technology within the Morris County education system.

For more information about the Morris County Economic Development Corporation, visit


The Law of Supply and Demand and Manufacturing Education

law of supply and demand

The law of supply and demand is simply a two-way street. Both sides need to be fulfilled for a desired outcome.

When looking at the literal meaning of the law of supply and demand, both sides directly relate to the price of the desired product or service; the goal is to increase revenue. By applying the law of supply and demand to manufacturing education, the goal is to increase opportunity. When the demand for manufacturing education increases, the opportunities for the students should also increase. But there is a high volume of students applying to manufacturing programs that are placed on waiting lists because there isn’t enough space in the programs; there is a demand but not enough supply. And in some areas, there are students who are unaware of the opportunities the manufacturing industry can bring so students are not expressing interest. With more manufacturing programs, students will have more opportunities to establish a career in the future. Employers will also have a larger pool of qualified applicants to help continue the growth of their business.

Hundreds of students apply for the manufacturing programs statewide but schools have to meet the State’s space requirements in the labs. This is a set limit on the number of students they can admit in the programs. Passaic County Technical Institute in Passaic, New Jersey, for example, can accept, at most, 18 students each year. Career and Technical Education schools have a high number of applicants for the programs each year. Students are being placed on waiting lists because there isn’t enough room for them all in the programs. This shows that there is a demand that is not being met due to the state restrictions. If there were more openings in manufacturing programs, the schools would be able to fill them.

In some areas, there is less demand for the manufacturing programs; students and parents are not asking for them. But they are not asking for them because they have not yet been introduced to the opportunities and benefits that the manufacturing industry can bring. If Apple made the iPhone but didn’t tell anyone about the features or the technological advances, no one would have bought it. Instead, Apple uses the law of supply and demand to their advantage. They continue to generate buzz about their products, building demand from the consumers to buy their products. The manufacturing industry has to generate the same momentum and gain exposure in all aspects of the industry in order to have the programs reinstated into schools statewide.

The law of supply and demand is dual sided. Both sides need to balance each other out to keep the status quo. According to Economics Basics: Supply and Demand by Reem Heakal, “the supply and demand theory will allocate resources in the most efficient way possible”. The introduction of manufacturing programs and a higher limit of admitted students in the existing programs can open more opportunities for students and help the manufacturing industry in New Jersey continue to grow and thrive.

For more information about manufacturing job opportunities, view our Careers page on

North Region TIP Hosts Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network Meeting

tip-2The support behind the manufacturing industry in New Jersey is ever-growing and was displayed at the Targeted Industry Partnership’s (TIP) Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network Meeting on December 8th. The North Region TIP, consisting of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, and Warren Counties, met to brainstorm ideas as to how the manufacturing industry in the North Region can continue to cultivate.

The North Region TIP has three main goals: develop entry level workers, increase qualified employees, and build capacity. Developing entry level workers begins during the education process. The education process helps students develop their skills so they are ready to begin working when they complete their program. With more manufacturing education opportunities, we can increase the number of trained potential employees. Therefore with more employees, manufacturing companies can continue to strive and evolve. These goals can be achieved when the counties work together.

The TIP is broken down into Regions and the North Region branches off into three committees. Each committee focuses on different areas for growth to achieve the TIP’s goals. The Evaluation/ Industry Needs Committee focuses on identifying the needs of manufacturers. The Pathway Development Committee focuses on working with educators of manufacturing programs to increase the education opportunities. And the Marketing Outreach Planning Committee focuses on reaching out to businesses and getting students and parents familiar with and interested in the manufacturing programs. The committees work towards their own goal and along the way they can overlap and work together to achieve the overall goals.

For more information or to get involved, visit

Open Discussion With HoHoKus School of Trade and Technical Sciences

Hohokus School of Trade and Technical Sciences Meeting 1Every year the HoHoKus School of Trade and Technical Sciences in Paterson, New Jersey invites business owners and employers from different trade fields to come to their school and have an open discussion with their educators. The business owners and employers in attendance were from an array of trades. The different trades included carpentry, manufacturing, construction, plumbing, property management, retail, electricity, and more. In hosting these meetings, the school hopes to get feedback about their current curriculum. They also hope to get suggestions for changes or additions that could be made to expand their students’ skill sets and in turn help their students get jobs and establish a career.

Throughout the discussion, although most of the attendees were of different trades, there were a lot of commonalities within their suggestions. One recommendation was the importance of “soft skills”. This is a relatively new term described as the important general habits that make a good employee; for example punctuality and attendance. The HoHoKus School of Trade and Technical Sciences’ educators implement these soft skills in their daily education. They teach them the importance of coming in on time, team building and more. The students also show their dedication to building good work habits by coming in early and staying late. The school is going beyond the curriculum by teaching the implied skills employers are looking for in their employees.Hohokus School of Trade and Technical Sciences Meeting 2

Another commonality discussed was that many students may not know the potential for growth in the trades’ career paths. The attendees and the school’s educators were in agreement that it helps to hear about this from a secondary source. Last year, The HoHoKus School of Trade and Technical Sciences hosted a field trip to Convertech Inc. in Wharton, New Jersey. One of the Convertech Inc. machinists took the students on a tour around the shop and talked to them about his growth within Convertech Inc. and in the manufacturing industry. The school has also invited representatives from the different trade fields to speak with the students and they are hoping to continue this going forward. Outside of the classroom experiences are great for the students. They are also great for employers because they can directly speak with their potential employees about the jobs’ expectations.

Business owners cannot grow their company without skilled employees and The HoHoKus School of Trade and Technical Sciences is teaching their students the necessary skills for their students to build a career. The school is always adapting their programs to the needs of the field. They are open to implementing new programs as they did last year with the new Advanced Manufacturing/ Entry-Level CNC Program. The educators care about their students. They host these meetings to do everything they can to give their students a foundation to be successful in the future.

For more information about the HoHoKus School of Trade and Technical Sciences, visit their website


Building Workers for Manufacturing Jobs

by Larry Taitel

The mounting need for workers capable of stepping into manufacturing jobs has prompted the State of NJ to get involved in an effort to benefit both manufacturers and potential employees. This has the potential for long-term benefits for all of us who depend not only upon the health of our own manufacturing businesses but also the growth of industry in New Jersey.

The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development (LWD) and New Jersey’s Talent Networks are partnering in support of one of LWD’s highest priority projects: creation of a statewide Demand Credential List (DCL). Toward that end, I recently attended a “Credentials Roundtable meeting” where employers watched a presentation and then participated in discussions with regard to employee credentials for advanced manufacturing. It’s hoped that the feedback from these discussions will help the Labor Market Analysts design questions for a broader online survey that will further prompt numerous other companies in our state to provide additional input.

At the meeting, one of my colleagues who was presenting opined that most companies which are seeking candidates for manufacturing jobs are less focused on credentials than on attitude and competence. He stressed that most of us are looking for good and reliable people who can be trained in our respective companies’ specific processes. For the most part, I concur.

At Convertech, with more than three decades in manufacturing for the converting, printing and packaging industries, we have learned that the best machinists begin with basic skills. The other two main criteria are a desire to learn and reliability (as Woody Allan once observed, 80% of life is just showing up). Of course, job compatibility and actual job expectations must be measured in, too, but these factors should begin, for potential employees, at the education level.

There’s a clear need for manual experience before individuals can begin moving on to automated machinery. Despite the fact that we’ve entered the Computer Age, where CAD and programming have hastened and refined manual processes, manufacturing requires workers to walk before they can run. In short, we need to develop basics skills training in the area of machinists, tool and die, metal lathe, and so forth. These are the fundamentals that manufacturers require. Further, we need to develop training of core competencies and credentials.

One program that I believe would be enormously beneficial is a four-year apprenticeship program. This should start as early as 10th grade and conclude at the State College or County College level. Such a program would allow actual employers to offer genuine hands-on training to potential employees. Imagine what a serious win-win this could be for everyone involved as we begin to build workers for manufacturing jobs!

Can apprenticeship programs be enacted with college credits earned so parents can see an actual educational path (read: college path) for their children? Yes.

I, for one, don’t believe college is appropriate for everyone. But to satisfy the ingrained notions many hold that college is indeed mandatory in this day and age, adding real-world skills to early academic training might prove eye-opening to both parents and students alike. Indeed, it may signal to many young people that a potential career in manufacturing—where jobs are currently a plenty—may hold superior and more desirable prospects than that desired career in another industry where jobs are few and, quite possibly, less satisfying.

Larry Taitel is president of Convertech Inc. (

Grateful acknowledgements to Mark Spaulding at Converting Quarterly for originally printing this op-ed.