DUBOIS, Pa. — More than 130 people, including area middle and high school students, elected officials, and manufacturing industry representatives, took part in Manufacturing Day at Penn State DuBois on Friday, Oct. 7. Those attending learned about a significant need within areas of the manufacturing industry for skilled and well-educated workers. Professionals representing local companies at the event said they have more jobs available than they have people to fill them, and hope that initiatives like Manufacturing Day can raise awareness that there is opportunity in the region for successful careers.
"We are experiencing a real shortage," said Stephanie Geitner, a product engineer with Comte Manufacturing. "We are constantly accepting applications; it never shuts off. But, people move away because they aren't aware of the manufacturing jobs that are here, or even of the industry itself."
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, more than 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed nationwide over the course of the next decade, and 2 million jobs are expected not to be filled due to the skills gap. Additionally, 80 percent of manufacturers report a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly-skilled positions.
To help make the community more aware of these opportunities during Manufacturing Day, all guests had the opportunity to take part in a product design exercise using computer drafting tools, received tours of campus engineering labs and production labs, and learned more about engineering degree programs offered at Penn State DuBois that can prepare individuals to launch careers in a variety of fields. Presentations were also made by faculty members in the campus engineering programs.
Another message organizers at Penn State DuBois hope to spread is that working manufacturing isn't what it used to be. "We need to let our young people see that 21st century manufacturing is all about using technology," said Associate Director of Academic Affairs and Outreach Carolyn Jacobson. "It's engaging. It's not assembly lines. We need to show young people that there are very good jobs right here in the area. There are jobs waiting for them right now."
Jacobson explained that 12 million Americans are currently employed in manufacturing fields, and in 2013, the average annual salary of those employees was $69,000. She said these include jobs in areas such as powder metals, machining, chemical production, food and beverage production, paper production, and more. Additionally, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, total output from manufacturing in Pennsylvania in 2013 totaled $77.37 billion.
Manufacturing Day is a national event supported by a group of industry sponsors and co-producers. Events were held at more than 2,000 locations across the country, intended to addresses common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers and educational institutions an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is about.