As global demand increases for qualified optical technicians and other photonics workers, the recruitment and training programs pioneered in upstate New York offer a model for other regions.

Optimax, the nation’s largest manufacturer of precision optical components was, in 2016, possibly the first U.S. company to launch an apprenticeship program for optical technicians. The company has averaged approximately 40 new hires annually over the last four years and now employs 350 optical technicians out of its 450 staff members. As of May 2023, Optimax had two active apprenticeships, with a new cohort expected to start soon. A total of six employees have completed the apprenticeship program, according to Joseph Spilman, Optimax’s president.


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Optical Workforce Training Comes into Focus