December 6 2017

Career Change Opportunities Abound with Capital Region Manufacturers

New HVCC program opens pathways to manufacturing careers

Manufacturing is increasingly appearing as an attractive option for Capital Region residents interested in changing careers, particularly those in the retail trade sector. Not only is the region’s manufacturing sector outperforming the nation and state in terms of employment growth, its entry-level occupations are generally higher paying than those in a retail trade. Even more, a new training program at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) is streamlining the transition from a career in one sector to the other.


Manufacturing Growth

Between 2012 and 2016, the Capital Region’s manufacturing sector outperformed the state and nation in terms or employment growth and the state in establishment growth. In contrast, the eight-county region’s retail trade sector has lagged behind the state and nation in both categories. Even more, during that five-year period, retail trade grew by only 617 jobs, whereas manufacturing added four times more jobs, according to a Center or Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

While the BLS data does not break out how many of those jobs are full- or part-time, other bureau statistics show retail employees nationally are working fewer hours. Nonsupervisory retail employees nationally worked an average 29.7 hours per week in 2016 – the fewest average weekly hours in more than four decades. In contrast, production and nonsupervisory manufacturing workers employees last year worked an average 41.9 hours per week – just shy of the record-setting 42 hours in 2014.

Last month, CEG and HVCC unveiled a new short-term, stackable credential training program for workers interested in joining the manufacturing workforce. This Manufacturing Technology Pathways training program allows students unable to enroll in a degree or certificate program to quickly earn credentials need for Capital Region manufacturing jobs. After completing a short noncredit, online course (Level 1), participants could enroll in an 80-hour manufacturing boot camp that includes online courses, in-person instruction and lab work (Level 2).

The creation of such a manufacturing boot camp was a key recommendation that CEG made in its Pathways Project for Advanced Manufacturing report, prepared on behalf of the Capital Region Workforce Development Boards. The report also pointed to declines in the retail trade sector and concluded that the “changing climate provides opportunities manufacturers can capitalize on, and, based on national reports, it is reasonable to assume this negative trend will continue. We should encourage manufacturers to engage this population of individuals in need of employment.”


Higher MFG Wages

Workers who enter the Capital Region’s manufacturing pipeline will, on average, receive higher wages for entry-level and experienced nonexempt production positions. For example, in the Capital Region, the average entry-level and experienced wages for most local assembler and fabricator or fitter occupations are higher than those for cashiers, retail salespersons, counter and rental clerks and parts salespersons, according to a CEG analysis of New York State Department of Labor statistics. Entry–level and experienced average wages are based on the bottom third and top two thirds of wages in an occupation, respectively.

Boot Camps

HVCC will begin offering Level 1 of the Manufacturing Technology Pathways program in January, with Level 2 courses to follow.


To learn more about the Pathways Project for Advanced Manufacturing study, contact CEG Director of Economic Development Services Amanda Vitullo at To learn more about or enroll in the program, contact Hudson Valley TEC-SMART Associate Dean Penny Hill at

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