The manufacturing sector in South Central Pennsylvania contributes over $15 billion to our regional GDP and employs over 120,000 people. In the fall of 2018, 30 industry leaders came together to form a new partnership to address regional issues related to manufacturing.
The South Central PA Manufacturing industry partnership is a solutions based process lead by a consortia of companies, located in a shared labor market region who have joined together around the most critical manufacturing challenges. The industry partnership is a place for manufacturers to collectively address issues related to shared vitality; a single table at which to work with the dozens of public programs and resources; and an opportunity to help create solutions to the shared critical competitiveness issues.
Current Areas of Focus
The talent pipeline group is focused on marketing and outreach to increase awareness and interest in manufacturing careers. There are a large number of jobs that go unfilled within the region and many students are not considering opportunities in manufacturing as a career. This group is primarily focused on ways to work together as an industry to provide resources and solutions to the region’s school districts to give them the resources needed to showcase this industry sector to all students.
English as a Second Language
With the diversity of the workforce in our region, there has been a challenge for this sector to recruit and retain the best talent in some cases due to language barriers. Current educational opportunities have not been able to meet the needs of industry and the group wanted to provide resources and information to help shape the system to better prepare their employees and supervisors to communicate. As an initial step the industry created an outline of needs to work with our regional training providers to see what solutions are in place, and what may need to be created.
Apprenticeship programs have often been a part of the manufacturing training plans. A gap has existed in how to get youth prepared to enter into the training pathways and be informed and prepared to make decisions on career pathways in manufacturing. There are manufacturers in the group that currently have their own model, and this discussion is around how to scale current programs to work together as an industry to build opportunities for learning and advancement.
Preparing students to enter the workforce is a key role in education. There is an opportunity in the region for this sector to get involved in the process and provide feedback on the future needs of the workforce.
Business to Business Connections
Our manufacturing sector is very diverse with many companies doing great work in their field. Many times however, our industry leaders are not as aware of what is going on here within the region. The goal of this group is to increase the communications between our manufacturers to help find new opportunities for collaboration within the region. A core focus of this group has been the quarterly meeting and site tour for the sector partnership group. Each quarter a different manufacturer hosts the meeting and following the updates, a site presentation and tour is conducted where the company can describe their operations and show off innovative practices.