In manufacturing there is a high demand for machinists. Southwestern Illinois College is helping to meet the demand with its Precision Machining Technology Program. The program started small quite a few years ago but has since grown to include 90 students (and growing) from a variety of backgrounds. Many of these students are working part time while studying. There is a big demand for skilled machinists in the St. Louis area and companies cannot find qualified candidates needed for available positions. According to Mark Bosworth, program co-coordinator at Southwestern Illinois College, “one of our part-time instructors sells machines as his day job. He was trying to sell a machine to a company and his contact said he’d buy the machine – if the instructor could send him a worker or two.” Some of the factors contributing to the skills gap include a retiring workforce, company growth, and the re-shoring trend in manufacturing, where companies are coming back to access the efficiency of higher quality, locally made parts.

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