Manufacturing executives from across the region gathered last Wednesday at Malvern’s newest brewery to collaborate on ways to attract skilled workers to their critical jobs.
The manufacturers, who are part of the Manufacturing Alliance of Chester and Delaware Counties (MACC/DC), met up at Locust Lane Brewery for the organization’s summer networking event to collaborate on best practices in operations, recruiting and hiring, and training and apprenticeships.
While the latest industry reports show continued expansion in the U.S. manufacturing sector, local manufacturers are facing a shortage of skilled workers. They attribute this trend to a variety of factors, including the retirement of their Baby Boomer workforce, as well as the false perception that a college degree is the only way to achieve an income that can support a family.
“Many people don’t realize that the modern manufacturing job is well paid, safe, clean, and high tech,” said Ralf Weiser from Aerzen USA Corporation. “We want to increase awareness among parents, school counselors, and students that manufacturing can be a springboard to a career and in some cases an employer-paid college education.
“Collaborative conversations, like the ones that go on at MACC/DC networking events, are essential to helping manufacturers attract and retain a skilled workforce in the modern economy.”
As of November 2016, a total of 19,992 individuals were employed in manufacturing fields in Chester County, according to the Chester County Economic Development Council. The most in-demand jobs are engineers, computer-controlled machine tool operators, maintenance workers for machinery, cross-functional technician, as well as welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor.
Chester County, and the region, are uniquely positioned to support these manufacturing jobs, with access to natural resources and raw materials, robust employee training opportunities, as well as proximity to suppliers and demand markets. The region also has access to more than a dozen education institutions that specialize in the manufacturing sector.