Manufacturers in Connecticut are facing a dilemma. On one hand they have tons of work - on the other, they have a shortage of people to do it.
At the Connecticut Convention Center recently, more than a hundred aerospace companies came together to show off what they do -- and hundreds of high school kids came to learn.
Sophomore Casey Lavoie from Xavier High School in Middletown was getting a virtual lesson in welding on a simulator set up by Goodwin College.
Lavoie said he wants to know more about engineering careers.
“I’ve seen a lot of good companies, and I’m definitely interested in being either a mechanical or aerospace -- those are definitely the two top ones," he said. "But I know there’s a lot more to look at.”
That’s what people like Max McIntyre want to hear. He heads up New England Airfoil, a machine shop in Farmington.
“I have a company of 70 plus people and I’m looking to hire approximately 30 people before January. And I’m one of 116 companies in here who are also vying for the same amount of available bodies,” he said.
McIntyre is one of the moving forces behind this gathering, as president of the Aerospace Components Manufacturers, a 20-year-old trade group that represents small shops in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
An upswing in defense work at Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and Electric Boat is what’s driving the current need for workers.
“I think that this is a once in a generation opportunity for the state of Connecticut with this resurgence of manufacturing,” said Cliff Thermer of Goodwin College.
Thermer said solving the problem is all about making connections.
"Schools, manufacturers, kids," he said. "The kids can go up and talk to a manufacturer and say - what do I need to do to work for you, because you make cool stuff? And they can say what training do you have, and these are places that you can go."
But getting the kids into the idea of manufacturing might be just the first step. Our sophomore, Casey Lavoie, said he loves the idea of the career, but he might see his future somewhere other than Connecticut.