Catalyst Connection, which has been helping regional manufacturers grow their businesses for more than 28 years, has announced the release of the Making Your Future™ Manufacturing Employment Demand Study. The study supports manufacturing job growth in Southwestern Pennsylvania and aims to better understand the current and projected demand for workers and the skill sets sought after by the regions’ employers.

“This report confirms that manufacturers are hiring thousands of workers at all levels of their organizations, with one third of open positions being entry level and not requiring a degree” said Petra Mitchell, Catalyst Connection president and CEO. “We simply don’t have enough individuals in the pipeline to fill the manufacturing jobs available, and it is our goal to address this need with new initiatives for job seekers and employers.”

The Employment Demand Study was conducted from May through June, 2018. Key goals of the study were to determine if there is an increased need for: investments in workforce development, improvements in immediate employability skills, change in perceptions of manufacturing careers, and improved employer practices to attract and retain a skilled and qualified workforce.

The study concluded with 111 respondents, with 41% in the metal fabricating and machinery sectors, and 50% having between 21-100 employees. The study sought to explain the following issues:

While manufacturing sales are up:

• Manufacturing employment in SWPA is down by 4.6%

• Profitability is limited, and

• Manufacturers are demanding more workers.

The study found that manufacturers are committed to the southwestern Pennsylvania region, although they are being impacted by the skilled worker shortage, with those impacts resulting in increased costs and lower profitability. Almost all respondents have current open positions, with approximately one third of open positions being entry level and not requiring a degree. About half of respondents have open “technical production” positions; machine operator is the most needed position. Basic employability skills and basic mechanical skills are the most needed skills.

We appreciate the depth of this study in better understanding the need for skilled workers in our industry,” said David Bonvenuto, President and CEO of Oberg, and Chairman of the Board of Catalyst Connection. “Our goal is to better communicate the multitude of transferrable skills that can translate to many levels of employment and aid in filling the gap.”

Almost all respondents also report significant amounts of hiring over the next 2-5 years, with business growth, retirement and voluntary turnover being the main reasons for hiring projections in entry-level positions.

“Companies are investing in new technology, and expect these investments to maintain or increase the need for skilled employees,” said Mitchell. “However, the need for engagement between training providers and companies is crucial in order to match the growing need for skilled workers.”

As a result of the study, Catalyst Connection will increase its investments in workforce development, create opportunities for job seekers to improve immediate employability skills, connect businesses to training providers, and assist businesses become employers of choice to attract and retain workers leading to less turnover and improved profitability. It will also continue the ‘Explore the New Manufacturing’ initiatives to introduce students and parents to advanced manufacturing career pathways.

To learn more, or to read the full study, please visit www.catalystconnection.org.

ABOUT CATALYST CONNECTION

Catalyst Connection is an economic development organization dedicated to helping small manufacturers improve their competitive performance. Advisors, consultants and instructors offer training, consulting and administer financial programs that can provide funding for equipment, machinery or capital improvements. A nonprofit 501 (c)3 firm, the organization has served southwestern Pennsylvania manufacturers for more than 30 years. Catalyst Connection is supported in part by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center Program, and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership. For more information, call 1-888-887-7472 or go to www.catalystconnection.org.