Michael Vetter hopes more young people will join him in careers at local factories instead of moving out of state or working on Wall Street.
"Manufacturing isn't just working in a steel mill," said Vetter, 34, an engineering manager at East/West Industries Inc., a Ronkonkoma-based defense contractor. "Manufacturing takes so many shapes, and there is so much need for innovation and new thinking."
Vetter, of Ronkonkoma, is among seven members of the millennial generation featured in "Long Island Makers," a video unveiled last week by the Workforce Development Institute. The not-for-profit institute, which has offices in Huntington and eight other places across New York State, provides training to employees and employers.
The 12-minute video, which can be seen on longislandmaker.com, is part of an effort by manufacturers to recruit young adults. Institute officials hope the video will be shown in local schools.
The initiative, backed by business groups, colleges and politicians, comes as a study by the Center for Corporate Education at Stony Brook University found that plants are having difficulty filling jobs and attracting skilled employees because of negative stereotypes of factory work.
"Manufacturing is diverse on Long Island, it's exciting and the jobs pay well -- but many young people don't know these facts," the center's Patricia Malone said. Besides traditional metal-bending businesses, the Island has become a production center for drugs, vitamins and food.
Rosalie Drago, the workforce institute's Long Island director, said "robust" internships can bring in millennials if the interns are given projects, not menial tasks.
Tours of production facilities also can help. Eight manufacturers, including Ultraflex Power Technologies in Ronkonkoma, opened their doors to visitors Friday as part of local celebrations of U.S. Manufacturing Day.
While the number of manufacturing jobs on Long Island continues to shrink, local factory workers' average pay is increasing. About 71,000 people worked in manufacturing here last year, according to the state Department of Labor. Their wages averaged $64,014 in 2014, up 1.3 percent from 2013. The average salary in the private sector was $53,136 in 2014.
When Daquan Sisco, of Valley Stream, graduated from college recently he said he thought that manufacturing jobs were scarce on Long Island. He heard a lot about opportunities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
"You have to have the exposure" to the jobs, said Sisco, 24, an engineer at drugmaker PL Developments in Westbury. "People need to see that the opportunities are out there . . . I wanted to stay on Long Island. I didn't want to move away."