There will be 17,000 available manufacturing positions open by 2020, according to Insyte Consulting of Buffalo, a manufacturing consulting firm.
The question for many companies is how to fill those positions. That's why a group of manufacturing organizations like Working For America, Western New York Area Labor Federation, Coalition for Economic Justice, and Jobs with Justice, came to the Service Employee International Union office in Buffalo to try and solve that problem. Specifically, they wanted to figure out how to make the manufacturing industry more diverse.
"Women that people of color have fair and equal access and opportunities and outcomes,"Erin Johansson, the research director at Jobs with Justice, said.
One of their main goals is to reach the under-served communities to get jobs to the people that need it most.
"The best path out of poverty is through a good family sustaining secure job," Johansson said.
When there are these kind of hiring difficulties, it helps to have a poster-child. A symbol for people to look up to and relate with. That person is Christine Anzalone.
"There are not many very (sic) women in my trade but I’m one of four and I’m proud," she said.
Anzalone isn't officially the "poster child" but she was a focal point of today's meeting. She is a tool and dye apprentice at the Ford Plant in Buffalo.
She traded in her heels and curlers for workboots and coveralls and hasn't looked back.
"Its all worth it. Absolutely."
She has doubled her salary and after graduating from the program will be making $35.00/hour. Once she found that number out she said it was, "Like all my money worries went away."
She has a few years left in her apprenticeship, but she is eager to get started. Anzalone also wants anyone who is considering it pursuing some sort of manufacturing job to just do it.
"Just to do it. If you're not scared to get your hands dirty, and you know, go back to school, you know, that was a hard thing for me, that was going back to school at my age, I’m glad I didn’t say no or didn’t take the classes because I definitely would have regreted it," Anzalone said.