Manufacturing is a job that people make a lot of assumptions about. An unfortunately prevailing one is that it’s a job where intelligence isn’t valued. This can instantly be debunked by AMTEP instructor Tiffany McFarlane, who has seen firsthand the drive and intelligence of the students, as well as the success of manufacturing training programs.
McFarlane has been co-teaching Foundational Math and related technical courses for Essex and Lynn with her mother, Kim McFarlane, for 15 years and has loved every minute of it. “If they wanted to hire me to work 12 hours a day, I’d do it. I love it,” she says.
Math is an aspect of the manufacturing industry that might not seem as important as it is at first glance. “This is what [the students are] asking me all the time; ‘how do we use math? What do we do with it?’” McFarlane says. The fact is, math is a critical element of manufacturing. It can be used for things as simple as dividing a pipe into even segments for cutting. Or it can be used for more complicated tasks, like drawing up detailed blueprints or working in robotics.
That’s because the manufacturing industry is changing and growing, creating new opportunities where math skills are in high demand. McFarlane says she’s seen a 6% growth in manufacturing jobs since 2020, and there are a lot more options for people looking to get into the industry. “You don’t have to be a machine operator. We see a lot of people who come in who instead go into robotics or cleanrooms.”
The success she’s seen in her students is continually inspiring. According to McFarlane, there’s been a 100% success rate with her course over the past three years. “A lot of people who are coming out of our program are getting offers of like $20/30 an hour.”
Even students who might thought they won’t succeed found themselves excelling under McFarlane’s guidance. “One of my all-time favorite students was going to drop out, thinking it wasn’t for her, but she ended up getting hired by Gillete in South Boston.” Since then, she’s come back to AMTEP alumni programs to talk to people who have graduated from the courses and advocate for others to apply themselves.
“The greatest strength of AMTEP as a whole is the collaboration between the organizations,” McFarlane states. “It is a well-oiled machine with the common goal of happiness and employment.”
But the fact is, these programs wouldn’t be even half as successful without dedicated instructors like McFarlane. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some students to decide to become instructors themselves. “You come for a 20-week, 400 hour training, and become an instructor with a pension and stability. There’s a lot to be said for that.”
While there might be many former students joining the ranks of the instructors, McFarlane doesn’t appear to be looking to step down anytime soon. She says she has a hard time turning down requests to teach classes because she wants to have a voice and influence the positive changes happening in the manufacturing industry. During Covid she developed the remote learning and teaching skills to continue running her courses, and even helped the shop teachers develop their curriculum. That’s because she wants the industry to grow and for her students to keep succeeding. “It’s all about giving back. Putting people into these jobs.”