Students learn the techniques necessary to gain a foothold in this exciting, 21st-century industry

 By Judy Bass

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 – People switch careers all the time for various reasons. Maybe they prefer a shorter commute to work, seek better pay or want more opportunities for growth and a promising future.

Amanda Santana and Miguel Osouna each had strong motivations to find new professions.

Amanda, who is in her early 30s, had been employed in the restaurant business in roles such as sous chef for years. Grueling work weeks of 50 to 60 hours, the acutely demanding nature of the job and practically zero work-life balance finally pushed her to throw in the towel.

“I needed a new career,” she concluded.

Miguel, 22, was a valet at Emerson Hospital in Concord.  It wasn’t the satisfying role he dreamed of. “No more quick or part-time jobs,” he vowed. Instead, Miguel wanted something he could do “forever” that would give him security, the ability to earn a solid living and offer him a wider career path.

Today, Amanda and Miguel have exactly what they each hoped for, thanks to free, grant-funded training made possible by the Northeast Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (NAMC) for individuals who are unemployed, underemployed or seeking new career options.

Last year, Amanda and Miguel took a NAMC training program in Machining at Greater Lawrence Technical School in Andover. They then landed jobs as CNC machinists at DECO med in Wilmington, Mass., a cutting-edge biotechnology company that creates products like prosthetic limbs and meshes used to correct hernias or do breast reconstruction.

They had no previous knowledge or experience in advanced manufacturing. Miguel said that getting the jargon of the industry down was a little tough at first, as was learning to operate the machines. Amanda recalls seeing those impressive machines and complex blueprints for the first time and asking herself, “What am I getting into?”

They caught on very fast, however, mainly due to the caliber and diligence of the program’s instructors. “They never leave anybody behind,” Amanda explained.

NAMC Executive Director Maryanne Ham hopes that anyone who wants a refreshing new start in an industry with plentiful openings for entry-level professionals will give the program a try.

“There truly is no downside to this,” she said. “The training is free to the students. They are taught on outstanding state-of-the-art technology. The instructors are experts who are patient and glad to assist people with challenging material they may need extra help with. I urge anybody who is looking for a different career to enroll in the Machining program at Greater Lawrence that starts in June.”





At the conclusion of the program, employment counselors from the MassHire Merrimack Valley Career Center help students craft resumes and hone their interviewing skills.

“There is so much opportunity in the advanced manufacturing industry in our region,” said Linda Rohrer, Executive Director of the MassHire Merrimack Valley Career Center. “Employers are looking for people who show up on time, are ready to work, and want to learn.  For these workers, the potential is almost limitless.”

“We give you the skills and connect you with employers,” said Susan Almono, Coordinator of Grants, Workforce Development and After School / Evening CTE Programs at Greater Lawrence Technical School.

“In the Northeast, there continues to be a large demand” for qualified entry-level employees.

“We know there are tremendous career opportunities in advanced manufacturing,” Almono added. “People can make a family-sustaining wage in so many career pathways. Anyone who begins the program and gives it a chance loves it.”

 The Northeast Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (NAMC) is a successful collaborative partnership led by the MassHire Metro North, Merrimack Valley, Greater Lowell, and North Shore workforce boards. NAMC is dedicated to serving the workforce needs of the Northeast Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing industry.  Partners in this consortium include the MassHire Career Centers, local technical high schools, community colleges, and other educational institutions, community based organizations, various public and private funders and northeast advanced manufacturing companies.  NAMC serves more than 200 area manufacturers and job seekers providing free training for dynamic 21st-century careers in Advanced Manufacturing. Intensive, hands-on instruction in key areas like Welding, CNC Machining and Robotics is offered, led by highly experienced professionals who guide students through each learning module at a pace that is comfortable and accessible for them. Guidance to programs that provide high school equivalency, math fundamentals, help for English Language Learners and study skills is available as well. Job readiness, including resume writing, interviewing preparation and linkages to employers, is done through MassHire Career Centers. With an 85% placement rate, program graduates can anticipate a career with exciting potential in a burgeoning profession.

NAMC registered apprenticeships provide another real-world, hands-on dimension of the training experience. They can be tailored to meet any employer’s requirements. These apprenticeships are valuable to employees in various disciplines who wish to cultivate their skills. For example, administrators, those with office positions and maintenance workers can benefit tremendously from this opportunity, along with professionals already in the Advanced Manufacturing industry.

For more information, please visit The Northeast Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (NAMC).