Utah's aviation industry is taking off, but one industry executive says state government could do more to enhance it.

Lloyd McCaffrey, director of manufacturing technology for Williams International in Ogden, which produces gas-turbine engines for small commercial aircraft and military missiles, told the Governor's Office of Economic Development Board on Friday that work-force development remains a priority as the industry seeks skilled workers.

McCaffrey said a "pathway" is needed to move people through training and into industry jobs. He noted that the state's applied-technology colleges are excellent, "but how do we get parents and (school) counselors to realize that's where they need to go?"

Williams is working on training prospective workers. Last year, the company created the Lean Manufacturing Training Center for Excellence in Ogden. It has trained 400 people and currently has 150 Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College students in its program.

Williams contributed $30 million in equipment and $7 million in operational costs, and the state added $1 million to the one-of-a-kind center. Other companies have invested $2.7 million in software, machines and equipment, McCaffrey said.

Manufacturers in northern Utah have long clambered for more skilled machinists and welders and have struggled with how to attract young people to careers in those industries. The Utah Department of Workforce Services projects 19,000 new manufacturing positions will be created in Utah between now and 2014. McCaffrey said entry-level pay typically is $18 to $21 per hour, and annual pay of $80,000 can be attained in just a few years.

Any new aviation workers would join an industry on the rise. Gary Harter, managing director of business development at GOED, said 2,300 employees were added to the industry during the past four years, bringing the total to 8,600 workers at more than 55 companies. Those figures do not include Hill Air Force Base or the state's composites industries, both closely tied to aviation.

The industry — with Boeing, Williams International, Parker Hannifan, Barnes Aerospace and other prominent companies — feature jobs that pay 83 percent higher than the state's average wage, Harter said.

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