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Economy & Business

Battling Labor Shortage, Companies Use 'Manufacturing Day' as Recruitment Tool

For an industry that is struggling to find workers, this Friday is especially important.  

On National Manufacturing Day, plants in Pennsylvania will host open houses, career workshops and public tours in an effort to recruit future employees.

Manufacturers are facing a skilled labor shortage. Employers are struggling to keep up with retirement rates and increased needs for production, said Tom Reed, managing director of marketing and communications for Catalyst Connection.  

There are approximately 8,500 openings annually in production around Pennsylvania, according to statistics from the Department of Labor.

In the state, 55 percent of all manufacturing jobs are currently held by people over age 45. Approximately 75,000 manufacturing jobs in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area are held by people over 45.

But Reed said it isn’t time to panic.

“It’s just going to take quite a bit of work to keep everyone engaged and really help to dispel the myth that manufacturing jobs today are those jobs that people think of a century ago in dark facilities with low skill and little opportunity for advancement,” Reed said.

The industry is advancing technologically, Reed said. Manufacturers are using a technique called additive manufacturing, which is the industrial version of 3-D printing.

This requires workers to have computer and engineering skills.

“There’s an opportunity for products to be designed in ways they never were before,” Reed said. “That requires a lot of creativity and someone to have a new mindset.”

Reed said that doesn’t mean an aspiring manufacturer has to get an engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University. An education from a trade school or community college is a good start, but enrollment numbers aren’t large enough to solve the labor shortage.

“The current levels of engagement in those programs are still short in just keeping up with the needs of current retirements and natural attrition in our manufacturing businesses,” Reed said.

To celebrate the third annual Manufacturing Day, there will be a tour and presentation Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the offices of Made Right Here in the TechShop at Bakery Square.