Workforce Development is Key in Every Regional Cluster

Workforce is a key component for any regional manufacturing cluster, especially as new technology is developed and changes the nature of job duties. Manufacturing USA network institutes have been at the forefront of advancing workforce initiatives in major regional clusters. Institutes involved in large-scale regional workforce initiatives include:

  • AFFOA: The institute is working with textile partners across academia, industry, local government, and the federal government to establish a statewide model for workforce development. AFFOA also is the sponsor of the MassBridge program in Massachusetts, which is developing a state-based training and career pathway model for advanced manufacturing.
  • AIM PHOTONICS: The institute is active in New York through the Empire State Development and in Massachusetts through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the Center for Advanced Manufacturing.
  • AMERICA MAKES: The institute collaborated with the state of Ohio to launch a state-wide additive manufacturing-centric high school training network, the latest addition in its K through Gray approach.
  • IACMI: The institute collaborated with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee to create America’s Cutting Edge (ACE) to develop the next generation machine tool workforce. IACMI is in the process of scaling the program nationally.
  • LIFT: The Detroit-based institute is reskilling and upskilling workers in some of high demand advanced manufacturing jobs, particularly in the I-75 corridor, where up to 50% of metalworking jobs have resided. The IGNITE: Mastering Manufacturing® curriculum for high school students and Operation Next for separating service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and their families, have been implemented across many states.
  • MXD: The Chicago-based institute’s workforce development arm, MxD Learn, is preparing to launch a regional initiative that will bring together stakeholders across what is described as the “world’s freshwater hub.” The collaborative effort will leverage the region’s freshwater resources to foster innovation in manufacturing workforce development, especially for underserved populations.
  • NEXTFLEX: The institute has created a portfolio of workforce programs, including FlexFactor, which has been implemented across the U.S. NextFlex project calls have been the funding catalyst for numerous institutes to implement or participate in workforce development programs.
Infographic depicting the regional clusters discussed in the article.


To learn more about the institutes' workforce development initiatives, visit the Institutes’ page.