This report provides a detailed examination of Advanced Manufacturing in the Cape and Islands region. This report is part of an eight-part series, each focusing on different areas of the Commonwealth. It examines recent employment and earnings trends; analyzes key occupations in Advanced Manufacturing’s sub-sectors, looking for common labor needs and comparing wages to similar workers in other industries; identifies the most common and critical skills needed by employers; and offers a detailed demographic profile of Advanced Manufacturing to highlight areas of critical concern for the future health of the industry.
The Advanced Manufacturing sector has an almost negligible presence in the Cape and Islands. Its fewer than 2,000 workers comprise less than 2% of the total regional employment base. The largest subsectors are Computers and Electronics and Food Processing, but no subsector constitutes a clear regional specialization. Advanced Manufacturing workers in the region also tend to make less than their counterparts else-where in the state. Only workers in Computers and Electronics earn substantially more than the regional average, and most subsectors have witnessed little real wage growth since 2001.
Like most other regions, the Advanced Manufacturing sector in the Cape and Islands has witnessed net job losses and layoffs since 2001. However, due the sectors limited presence in the region the relative impact of these loses has been rather muted compared to other areas. Most of the major losses were associated with recessionary periods in 2001-02 and 2008-09. Since 2010, the Advanced Manufacturing sector has added net new jobs to the regional economy at a pace commensurate with national sectoral growth, although the actual number of jobs is still small.
The limited size of the core Advanced Manufacturing labor pool and the irregular geography of the region challenges the cost-effective development of training programs that typically benefit from scale advantages and concentrated demand. While workers across the different subsector share many key occupations and skill requirements, workforce development officials may have to develop programs that appeal to a wider spectrum of industries. The aging of the Advanced Manufacturing workforce also poses a major challenge to the region. The labor force of the Cape and Islands is among the oldest in the state. Almost 60% of to-day’s workforce will reach retirement age within the next twenty years—and there are few workers in their twenties and thirties to fill these openings. On the plus side, the Advanced Manufacturing workforce in the Cape and Islands is more diverse in its gender and racial composition that what we typically find elsewhere in the state and region.