Take a look at recent headlines and you will notice a lot of buzz about manufacturing. Manufacturing in the United States is experiencing a renaissance along with all things made in America. Even Wal-Mart has pledged to increase the number of U.S. made products it purchases to $250 billion by 2032.
The growth in manufacturing activity has created an urgent need for skilled trade professionals to keep the factories running. Pennsylvania businesses are also experiencing a skills gap, and they are trying to fix it.
Here are some recent stats from a Pennsylvania Manufacturing Scorecard. Manufacturing is the third largest industry in Pennsylvania. 14,446 businesses employ over 560,000 skilled workers or 10% of the state’s workforce. The average annual manufacturing wage in the state is $56,834.
Betting on the Future of Manufacturing
In a recent Atlantic Live forum, Bold Bets: Future of Manufacturing, legislators and industry experts talked about the strategies that are working to improve the workforce. The panel discussions emphasized the importance of exposing students at a young age to the possibilities that manufacturing has to offer. Couple this early introduction to manufacturing with educational programs that meet the demands of the 21st-century factories and you have a winning combination.
Pennsylvania Initiatives Support Manufacturing Careers
In Pennsylvania, several initiatives are underway to encourage young people and develop the skills they will need in the highly automated factories of today. The Manufacturing Institute has teamed up with several manufacturing groups Including the Manufacturer’s Resource Center (MRC) in Allentown and the Manufacturing Alliance of Chester and Delaware Counties to expand an initiative called “Dream It, Do It. PA.” According to their website “Dream It. Do It. PA started in 2013 as an effort called Lehigh Valley Skill Up to raise awareness in the Lehigh Valley area.” The cornerstone of this initiative is the popular student video contest. The MRC has been able to leverage this contest to promote manufacturing throughout the state.
The goal of the initiative is to build the workforce of tomorrow by:
- Providing resources to the state’s parents, students, educators and manufacturers on the importance of these careers and the availability of training and employment opportunities.
- Updating their website at dreamitdoitpa.com with the latest information.
- Coordinating and producing the annual Dream It. Do It. PA Lehigh Valley Student Video Contest.
- Providing support to other coalitions who are working to promote manufacturing careers. Another initiative called iEXPLORE focuses on promoting the top 10 in-demand manufacturing jobs in greater south central Pennsylvania and Maryland. This partnership effort includes the Manufacturers Association of South Central PA and nine area manufacturers including Harley Davidson.
More Manufacturing Jobs In Pennsylvania Leads to More Opportunity
Recently Bollman Hats of Adamstown Pennsylvania joined forces with Samuel Jackson to launch a Kickstarter campaign. The $100,000 goal of the campaign will create and retain approximately 200 American jobs. According to the Reshoring Initiative website other notable Pennsylvania companies that have reshored jobs include Armstrong World Intrudes, B. Braun Medical, Independence LED and K’NEX Construction Toys.
Established in January of 2015, Reshore2PA is a website platform that helps connect OEMs in Pennsylvania with local manufacturers. According to their website Reshore2PA is part of the PA Made Again initiative, funded in part by a federal “Make It in America Challenge Grant”, that is focused on creating jobs through the growth and retention of Pennsylvania’s manufacturing economy.”
Manufacturing employment and wages in Pennsylvania have remained stable over the past few years. Initiatives to create manufacturing jobs and provide the right training for those jobs, will ensure our commonwealth a bright future.