Nationwide, there are an estimated half million open jobs with no one qualified to fill them. That's the problem the manufacturing industry faces. The good news is there's a growing effort to recruit and train workers to fill the skills gap.
It's a hot job within the manufacturing sector that needs a lot of new talent.
"We're running classes in the mornings, afternoons and evenings and still the demand is so huge for welders," said Ginger Clark, vice president of workforce training for Hillsborough Community College.
Welding is just one sector in the manufacturing industry facing a hiring crisis. Lots of baby boomers are retiring and many younger people aren't convinced this kind of career is for them.
"Everybody wants to be lawyers and doctors, but we don't have anybody that wants to be a welder, the down to earth kind of thing, you know, hands on, and I love hands on!" said Willie Poole, Hillsborough Community College welding instructor.
Poole worked in the industry 50 years before taking his talents to the classroom. He's hoping his passion will spark more interest in this kind of career, which has proven to be stable and high-paying. Those are some of the reasons that attracted Brendan Norsesian to welding after already serving in the military and earning a business degree.
"I didn't really find too many jobs out there that I was too fond of at the time. So I decided the best bet would be to get into something I like doing, getting a trade under my belt," Norsesian said.
And there's no better time to consider a manufacturing career. A new manufacturing partnership is launching in Hillsborough County, with new funding to recruit and train workers. An introductory program at HCC can be finished in as little as six weeks.
"You're going to sweat, you're going to get dirty, but that shouldn't be something that discourages you. I think stepping into a job that allows you to make good money and have opportunities outside of just doing that small niche is certainly a thing you should look into," Norsesian said.
If you'd like to learn more about available manufacturing jobs and training programs available, there's a chance to do that Thursday. A manufacturing career fair is happening at Hillsborough Community College's Brandon campus. It runs from 3 to 7 p.m.