Manufacturing matters! According to a recent report by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation and the Aspen Institute’s Manufacturing and Society in the 21st Century program, manufacturing is still the greatest wealth-creating tool in the United States. Consider the fact that manufacturing stimulates economic growth through a higher multiplier effect than any other sector. Specifically, the report concludes that every dollar of final sales for manufactured products generates $1.48 in economic activity in other parts of society. This is why Workforce Solutions for North Central Pennsylvania participates in the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing Video Contest.
Workforce Solutions for North Central PA is leading the way to bring education, industry, workforce and economic development and other partners together to host the 3rd Annual event in the North Central PA Region in 2018-19. The contest features teams from middle schools in Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean, and Potter Counties. Each team of 6th through 8th grade students along with a teacher/coach is provided video equipment and training and then matched with a manufacturing company located in the region. The teams are challenged to create short video profiles of their companies and the career opportunities they offer. By improving the image of these careers and creating heightened awareness of them, the contest not only aims to sustain manufacturing careers, but aims to help them thrive.
The Dream It Do It PA Student Manufacturing Video Contest originated from the Skill-Up the Student Pipeline Grant which was awarded to MRC by Governor Tom Corbett several years ago. The purpose of the grant was to address the growing need for skilled workers for the mid- to high-level technical jobs in advanced manufacturing. The grant efforts included raising awareness among students, parents, and educators with an accurate depiction of today’s manufacturing environments and career choices. Manufacturing jobs have exciting career paths, excellent pay, engaging work environments, and are in high demand.
Despite slight declines in people employed in recent years, the North Central region depends heavily on manufacturing, having employed 19.3% of the workforce in 2018 (according to PA Department of Labor and Industry). Manufacturing accounts for 25% of the total wages earned in the region. The average wage for manufacturing jobs is $49,774, which, in most cases, provides a living wage for a family. That this industry cluster retains a substantial regional competitive advantage has been proven to some degree by the selling of family-owned metals enterprises in the past few years to large international firms.
A thriving manufacturing industry presents some unique advantages. Young workers entering the field are able to make a living without accruing debt from university or graduate school. Furthermore, there is room for growth; industry specific training in skills are not long-term programs and can increase wages significantly.
Centers in the Appalachian Education and Workforce Network such as Workforce Solutions play a role in changing the behavior and the actions of students and schools by encouraging collaboration among education, business, and industry partners. Programs such as the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing Video Contest strengthen students’ goal-setting for postsecondary pathways. Schools and districts don’t know the details about every role and sector, but partnerships such as the ones created and featured in this contest expose young people early to viable and attractive career paths. This in turn supports the need for skilled labor in important industries.
If the North Central Pennsylvania region is going to continue to thrive, its manufacturers need to be successful. Promoting collaboration and the opportunity for workforce and education partners to sit at the same table creates space for everyone to share what they know best: giving students and communities the most useful information about careers and promoting the best preparation possible for post-high school success. And, the contest is fun!
To learn more about how Workforce Solutions for North Central Pennsylvania facilitates a workforce development system that meets employer’s human capital needs and job seekers’ career needs, please contact Susan Snelick, Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or Pam Streich, Director of Strategic Planning and Project Management at email@example.com.