Parents, students: Don't rule out vocational training. Check curriculums at vo-tech high schools, community colleges, especially those with industry partnerships. Start looking as early as middle school.

Acquire skills: In demand are welders, machinists, mechanics, specialists in CNC and CAD, and any trades, including electrical and sheet metal. Math and computer skills help.

Candidates: Beef up resumés. List duties, skills, certifications, machines operated and repaired.

Soft skills: Companies want drug-free employees with stable work histories and a willingness to learn and respond to production demands. "Come to work every day, don't be drunk, and don't start fights."

Employers: Be willing to pay market wages. In a tightening labor market, talent has a price.

SOURCE: Charles Marcantonio, director of employment and training, Manufacturing Alliance of PhiladelphiaEndText