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Littleton Program Aims To Unveil A Stealth Profession: Computer Controlled Machining

Flickr/Wistech Colleges

A $340,000 program opens Friday in the North Country to introduce high school students and adults to a job they probably never knew existed: computer-controlled machining.

“There’s a dire need of CNC operators above the notch,” says Mike Currier, the manager of the Rotobec plant in Littleton. Its products include machinery for the forestry industry.

CNC stands for computer numerical control and a CNC machinist uses a computer to control a sophisticated machine tool. Wages for such workers typically start around $16 an hour, with experienced operators paid around $22, according to state figures.

Currier says he worries that finding CNC operators will be even harder in the coming years, as older workers retire. The program hopes to address the needs of manufacturers and people looking for work.

“We have young people in school who may not be thinking about manufacturing. How do we get them involved,” asks Beno Lamontagne, the state economic development official covering the North Country.

Ideally the program will lead to entry-level jobs and prepare students to move into advanced training, says Alan Smith, the director of the Hugh J. Gallen Career & Technical Center, where the program is based.

About $169,000 of the funding comes from the federal government, says Taylor Caswell of the Community Development Finance Authority.

Then, Rotobec contributed another $170,000.

The program is open to residents of all ages in Coos, Northern Grafton and Northern Carroll Counties.

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