It Takes Teamwork to Fill Jobs

People | Petra Mitchell| April 21, 2023

There are more manufacturing jobs available than qualified people to fill them. Those of us in the manufacturing community should work together to meet this challenge because our economic survival and our national security depend on it.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the Commonwealth had 70,000 manufacturing job openings in 2019 and only 30,000 job seekers. That trend persists here and nationwide. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, this past January more than 800,000 manufacturing jobs were unfilled.

Those vacancies could adversely affect the economy as a National Association of Manufacturers report suggests. Specifically, for every $1 a manufacturer spends, there is a $2.60 economic impact. Manufacturing’s “multiplier effect” trails only those of the utilities and IT sectors.

Over the next decade, this country will need about 4 million manufacturing jobs, yet 2.1 million of those positions are expected to go unfilled if we don’t improve our ability to persuade students pursuing careers in STEM fields that manufacturing facilities are clean and safe, and that manufacturing positions pay as much as, or more than, work in “glamorous” fields. The projected economic cost of unfilled manufacturing jobs could total $1 trillion in 2030, about 4% of GNP.

If that potential scenario doesn’t move you, these numbers should. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2021 U.S. manufacturers performed more than 55% of all private-sector domestic R&D, driving more innovation than any other sector. From 2000 to 2021, R&D spending by manufacturers rose 262% from $132.5 billion to $347.4 billion.

Tony Schmitz, a professor of engineering at the University of Tennessee, wrote in a recent Fortune magazine article that “manufacturing…is in a war for talent….If we do not act now, the U.S. national defense and economy will be compromised.”

In working with manufacturers over the past 35 years, Catalyst Connection has been helping companies attract and retain qualified workers. Last year, our efforts contributed more than $14.8 million in increased sales to southwestern Pennsylvania’s economy on investments of nearly $66.4 million while creating more than 190 jobs and retaining more than 500 jobs.

While those numbers are significant, if manufacturing is to fulfill its potential, all stakeholders will need to collaborate more closely than ever.

To help strengthen southwestern Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector, Catalyst Connection will  host the MFG Works Summit on Wednesday, May 24, from 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at St. Vincent College in Latrobe – the site of Steelers training camp. The event is designed to help anyone who has a passion for attracting or developing manufacturing talent.

If you own a manufacturing company or work for a manufacturer, or if you are affiliated with a workforce development organization, school system, college or university, or local government organization, we want you to attend MFG Works.

Keynote Speaker: Ryan Jenkins, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

Ryan Jenkins, CSP is a Wall Street Journal Bestselling author, an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and virtual trainer. His latest book is Connectable: How Leaders Can Move Teams From Isolated to All In. Ryan will share his knowledge and best practices when it relates to team connection, generational differences, & the future of work. Attendees of the conference will receive a complimentary copy of Ryan’s latest book.

Participants of MFG Works will learn best practices on the following:

  • How to engage with a younger generation
  • How to respond to the changing expectations of today’s employees in the workplace
  • Hiring best practices and employer branding
  • Pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship career pathways and how employers can leverage these models
  • Onboarding
  • Identifying and hiring talent transitioning out of incarceration, formerly homeless, new Americans, or those with disabilities
  • How to create diverse and inclusive cultures
  • How to engage new workers with innovative leadership and coaching support
  • New post secondary training approaches and how to leverage our comprehensive workforce systems

Together, we can transform the day’s discussions and relationships formed by agreeing to jointly develop a vision, strategy, and implementation plan that will help to strengthen the economic vitality of our region for many years to come. 

Learn More and Register Now.