Meanwhile, New England’s factories, once among the world’s most prosperous, have ended decades of job loss and are now facing a new problem: recruitment. In 2012, Barry Bluestone, dean of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, estimated that over the coming decade, manufacturers in Massachusetts alone would need to fill 100,000 jobs as the sector’s aging workforce retired.

But a June survey of manufacturers in North Central Massachusetts found that recruitment, hobbled by a “lack of interest in manufacturing careers from youth,” was their number one barrier to growth. The finding echoes a 2009 Deloitte study on New England manufacturing that identified a widespread perception that manufacturing is “dark, dirty, dangerous, and declining” as a major obstacle to success.