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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- As millions of young Americans struggle to land jobs, students in manufacturing trade schools are sitting in a sweet spot. They're being hired even before they graduate.
Two weeks ago, students from the manufacturing program in Chicago's Wilbur Wright-Humboldt Park vocational college attended a local job fair.
"Five of our students were hired in just one day," said lead instructor Bryant Redd. The new hires are from a class of 41 students who are still four months away from completing a nine-month advanced certification program in computerized numerical control (CNC) machining.
In the program, students go beyond basic machining with classes in computer design, machine shop technology and machine shop math.
Manufacturers in the Chicago area are busier than ever lately, and they're "begging" for more workers trained in advanced manufacturing skills like CNC machining, said Redd.
It's not just in Chicago. Factory work has picked up considerably nationwide, making skilled workers a valuable commodity, said Marc Smierciak, associate dean of instruction at the vocational college.
$100K manufacturing jobs
"Employers right now need workers with these high-precision skills. But the mismatch is that most of America's unemployed workforce doesn't possess these skills," Smierciak said.
So manufacturers are racing to trade schools like Wilbur Wright, one of only seven schools in Illinois that offer an accredited CNC course, and snapping up newly-minted factory workers as quickly as they can.
The demand for his graduates is so intense that last year's CNC graduating class scored a 100% job placement.
"It's a wonderful accomplishment for us," said Smierciak. It was the first time the school achieved perfect placement in the program's 15-year history. Smierciak expects this year's graduating class to meet with similar success.
To get into the program, students need a high school diploma or the equivalent and can go part-time or full-time.
The starting salary for the new hires averages about $40,000 a year, with...