A program that offers free machining and manufacturing training recently expanded to McKeesport. The non-profit New Century Careers will run the tuition-free facility, which organizers hope will help restore the once-booming industrial economy in the Mon Valley.
Neil Ashbaugh, New Century Careers Director of Services, said graduates will be ready to enter a field with a high demand for workers. The company has been training machinists and other manufacturing workers in southwestern Pennsylvania since 1999 and Ashbaugh says the tech sector has renewed demand for workers.
“When you think of what a machinist does, they learn specific skills,” Ashbaugh said, “While they learn specific equipment today, what we’re really teaching them is how to become solutions providers.”
About 2.4 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled in the next decade, according to a skills gap study by the nonprofit Manufacturing Institute. The shortage is felt locally, too, according to state Sen. Jim Brewster. The McKeesport Democrat said to fill these jobs and help the community, it’s important that the training remains free.
“This is just another part of the puzzle, so that we can put young people in the position where they want to work with their hands, make good money and, frankly, do it for free,” Brewster said.
The program has run for years on Pittsburgh’s South Side, but this is the first time it will be offered in the Mon Valley. It will be located in the former McKeesport Daily News building.
90.5 WESA's Katie Blackley contributed to this report.