Ontario, N.Y.--Douglas Peeso lost his job last year, took one optics course at Monroe Community College and was soon hired by Optimax Systems in Ontario. The Wayne County high-tech firm is no stranger to MCC hires; the school works hand-in-hand with Optimax to prepare students for in-demand tech jobs.
"I knew nothing about optics fabrication and that course for as brief as it was introduced me to a lot of skills and concepts that I hadn't been aware of before," said Peeso.
Peeso had a background in chemistry and works as a technician primarily responsible for research.
Alejandro Mendoza spent Wednesday at MCC's college career fair in search of new talent. Starting yearly pay for technicians is about $50,000 according to Mendoza.
"It's difficult to find the right candidates that have the fundamental skill sets but also the transferable skill sets in our workforce and environment," said Alejandro Mendoza, Human Resources manager at Optimax.
State Labor figures show a net gain of 900 manufacturing jobs between March 2011 and March 2012.
While local unemployment rose from 7.9 percent to 8.0 percent in March compared to the previous March, local economist Tammy Marino says the local job market is improving.
"The latest numbers reflect the strongest hiring in more than a decade," said Marino.
For those with interest in manufacturing, high salaries and ample opportunities remain.
"There is a strong precision machine base along with the optics base here in Rochester. You have to have the aptitude and interest for the training," said Kevin Kelley, Executive Director of the Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association.