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Tennessee manufacturers seek workers as industry rebounds
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee manufacturers are in need of young employees as the industry rebounds and older manufacturing workers retire.

According to State Economic and Community Development commissioner Randy Boyd, of the 344,000 manufacturing workers in Tennessee, about 77,000 will retire in the next decade, the Tennessean ( ) reported.

Between 2000 and 2009, 6 million manufacturing jobs were lost. However, the manufacturing sector is no longer in decline. In Tennessee, manufacturing jobs have increased by 15 percent in the past five years and advanced manufacturing jobs have grown by 33 percent, according to the economic development office.

Boyd's department has been trying to introduce students to manufacturing, but many students associate manufacturing jobs with stagnant wages, undesirable work conditions and uncertain prospects, he said.

"These are now high-paying, high-quality, high-demand jobs," Boyd said. "Every media outlet, schools, leaders talk about the disappearance of manufacturing jobs in America. That's not true in Tennessee."

Government departments, companies and schools are taking steps to remedy this problem.

Concerned by the imminent retiring of many workers, Tennessee companies have invested in partnerships with area schools. For example, General Motors has sponsored camps and Bridgestone has helped develop a local high school automotive program.

Programs promoted by Gov. Bill Haslam have helped increase enrollment at the 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology campuses. Chris Turner, General Motors' business manager for manufacturing engineering, said the TCAT schools are helping solve what he describes as an "enormous problem."