Eastec, the largest manufacturing trade show on the East coast, has returned to the Big-E in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Nearly 550 exhibitors from across the country are showcasing the latest innovations in precision instruments. According to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, organizers of the now biennial event, there are about six dozen new vendors, an increase over 2011. Mark Tomlinson, the Society’s CEO, says in addition to new technologies, this year’s Eastec also highlights several workforce development programs.
“There’s not as much need for repetitive assembly worker, but there’s a bigger need for people with skills that they can get, and need to get, through post-secondary education. Not necessarily four-year degrees, but they need to go get specialized training associated with computer numerical control or machining.”
Those skills are increasingly lacking as older skilled workers retire, according to Tim Emerson. He is operations manager for Eadac Machinery in Farmington, Connecticut, which manufactures and repairs machine tools for various industries.
“An effort really needs to be made on a longer term basis to take folks earlier in the game and bring them up to speed, which is a multi-year endeavor.”
SME head Tomlinson says his group is working to foster stronger collaborations between high schools, community colleges and industry in training and re-training the current and future workforce. This year’s Eastec, which is expected to draw over 10,000 visitors, runs through Thursday.