Lack of Qualified Employees Stunts Manufacturing Growth Potential
When distributors for the largest machine tool builder in the United States gathered recently for a training conference at Pennsylvania College of Technology, the issue on their minds was the challenge of finding qualified employees to help revitalize U.S. manufacturing.
This was shown to be especially crucial on a state level when a recent study, shared at the conference, showed that Pennsylvania manufacturing jobs are going unfilled because employers cannot find workers with the necessary skills to support industry needs.
Penn College, a special mission affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University, committed to applied technology education, was the site of Haas Automation’s 2011 Pennsylvania Haas Technical Education Center CNC Technology Training Conference. More than 100 educators and industry representatives attended hands-on training during the event, co-sponsored by the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Haas Factory Outlets.
Lauren Bryson, statewide Industrial Resource Center Network director, shared results of an IRC-commissioned study, which found that, while manufacturing employment has grown in Pennsylvania in recent months, industry faces problems finding qualified employees.
In addition to the IRC study, she said the National Association of Manufacturers’ “Skills Gap Report 2011” found 600,000 jobs are unfilled because employers are unable to find workers with necessary skills. The Pennsylvania Center for Advanced Manufacturing Careers estimates that Pennsylvania employers will need 15,000 to 17,000 more precision-machining and industrial-maintenance workers during the next decade.
Manufacturing provides tremendous career opportunities for individuals with advanced degrees, Bryson said. But this contradicts the public perception of the manufacturing industry. A 2011 Public Perception Report by the National Association of Manufacturers found that 86 percent of respondents believe manufacturing is “very important” to the nation’s economic prosperity, but only 33 percent would encourage their own child to pursue a career in manufacturing.
“We’ve got to go beyond this room … and get more people to understand who we are and what we do,” Fred Joseph, of the Philadelphia Haas Factory Outlet, told conference participants. “Ninety percent of people don’t know what we do.”
Joseph, Bryson and Tom Jonas, of the Pittsburgh Haas Factory Outlet, were speakers at the event. In addition to keynote sessions, participants toured Penn College’s machining, welding, rapid prototyping, metallurgy, computer aided design and automated manufacturing/robotics labs and attended hands-on sessions to learn about new processes, software and tooling.
In addition to using Haas machine tools in automated manufacturing and manufacturing engineering technology classrooms located in its College Avenue Labs and Machining Technologies Center facilities, Penn College is a “Haas Technical Education Center.” providing industry training and hosting tours for the company’s customers and representatives.
Established in 1983, Haas Automation Inc. manufactures a full line of computer numerical control vertical and horizontal machining centers, CNC lathes, rotary tables, and related equipment.
The company initiated its technical education centers network to provide state-of-the-art equipment to support high-tech, hands-on education, so students around the nation can graduate as work-ready CNC machinists and programmers.
“Technical education is critical to our industry,” Joseph said. “But in my opinion, it’s even more critical to our country.”
To learn more about automated manufacturing (a two-year, associate-degree program of study), manufacturing engineering technology (a four-year, baccalaureate-degree program) and other academic programs offered by the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College, call 570-327-4520 or visit online .
For more information about Penn College, visit on the Web , email or call toll-free 800-367-9222.
Photos by Whitnie-rae Mays, student photographer