Advanced composite manufacturing is an industry with high projected growth that pays middle-class wages. However, advanced composite manufacturers are more likely to locate their facilities in regions with highly skilled workers. Workers in regions that suffer from high unemployment rates and low wage levels would benefit greatly from the creation of new advanced composite manufacturing plants. Assuming demand for advanced composite skills will exist, offering composites training courses in high school could make students employable in composites manufacturing upon graduation.
An example of how to incorporate training into high schools can be seen in the work of the Advanced Composites Education Services (ACES). ACES has partnered with 20 schools in Washington, Oregon, and Alabama to give high school students the skills needed to fabricate an advanced composite. For example, students at Todd Beamer High School built a carbon fiber composite clipboard, demonstrating their mastery of design and assembly skills. The program allows students to earn high-demand certificates by completing three years of composites training or a rigorous one year program.
A state could partner with the Advanced Composites Education Services to bring this training to its high schools. Incorporating this hands-on training into the high school curriculum would ensure that today’s students are prepared to enter the workforce after graduation. Having a workforce skilled and trained in advanced composites could make the state irresistible to global manufactures that need to build new factories to meet growing demand. Placing a focus on training in the state would attract manufacturers and create jobs in the advanced materials economy.