The Caroline County Board of Education and Caroline County Commissioners have announced the launch of a new manufacturing curriculum for high school students.
The Advanced Manufacturing Professionals (AMP) curriculum was developed to prepare Caroline County students for careers with local and regional manufacturers. The Maryland State Department of Education has approved the new curriculum, which will begin enrolling students for the 2017 – 2018 school year.
The AMP curriculum was developed in response to Caroline County Economic Development's five-year strategic plan, which identified workforce development for the manufacturing sector as a top priority. The Board of Education, economic development, and local manufacturers began working together to develop AMP nearly three years ago.
"We are very excited about the opportunities AMP will provide our students," said Dr. Patricia Saelens, Interim Superintendent of Caroline County Public Schools. "The new curriculum is very robust. It will prepare students for modern manufacturing, which requires creativity, problem solving, and teamwork."
The manufacturing sector employs more than 1,200 people in Caroline County, representing 12.2% of all jobs in the County, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation. There are more than 6,500 people employed in manufacturing in the broader Mid-Shore region. The Board of Education received fifteen letters of support for the AMP curriculum from manufacturers located in all five Mid-Shore counties. These companies expressed concern that it has become increasingly difficult to find skilled technical workers. They expect this trend to continue as their most experienced workers are aging and retiring out of the workforce.
The local shortage of skilled manufacturing labor reflects broader national trends. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the industry expects to add a total of 3.5 million manufacturing jobs over the next ten years. In a recent survey, 80% of manufacturers reported that they are already facing a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled or highly-skilled positions. This is despite the fact that the average manufacturing worker's wages are $26.00 per hour, excluding benefits. This is higher than the average wages for workers in other sectors.