‘Making Your Future’ initiative strives to connect ‘makers’ to area manufacturers’ growing needs

by Michael Bradwell, Observer-Reporter

Over the next decade, a growing manufacturing sector in the tri-state region will require 30,000 new workers to fill current and new vacancies. A new venture between Pittsburgh-area manufacturers of metals and advanced materials and Catalyst Connection, a nonprofit that works with small and mid-sized manufacturers – including those in Washington and Greene counties – is trying to attract young adults to fill these positions.

The target audience for the “Making Your Future” initiative are part of the so-called “maker” movement, men and women in the tri-state area who make or produce something like an art or a craft, or those who enjoy working with their hands, with a passion for building, baking, welding, painting, coding, assembling, carving or designing.

The program, which will help to bring together makers with the area’s 2,829 manufacturers, also associates the maker with a new manufacturing term for someone who uses digital tooling or processes to create a tangible product.

‘Immediate need’

During an interview at the Observer-Reporter last week, Catalyst Connection CEO Petra Mitchell said the target audience was chosen “because we have this immediate need, so we can’t wait for the kids to graduate from high school.”

While Mitchell concedes that many in the target group could currently be unemployed or underemployed, she believes they can be trained for good-paying manufacturing jobs. According to MakingYourFuture.org, the average salary of employees working in manufacturing is $59,683.

Mitchell noted that like the growing maker movement, a career in manufacturing often requires creativity, technical skills and a desire to see a task through from start to finish.

The Making Your Future initiative was designed to help thousands of people find a career in manufacturing with a desired outcome of connecting qualified employees to the 30,000 -plus job vacancies over the next decade.

The focus of the initiative is threefold:

  • Making it easier for adult job seekers to learn about and network with manufacturing leaders
  • Making it easier for employers to find skilled talent
  • Making it easier for our partners to collaborate on new initiatives for regional economic impact.

Connecting employers, job seekers

The new website, www.MakingYourFuture.org serves as the connection between potential employees and the thousands of manufacturing companies in Western Pennsylvania.

According to information provided by the organization, the demand is real and will continue to grow.

According to the state Department of Labor and Industry’s Center for Workforce Information & Analysis, about 8,500 new manufacturing jobs open up every year across the state. CWIA estimates that by 2024, there will be an average of 10,398 annual openings in the “Production Occupations” sector, a result of a combination of growth and replacement of the existing workforce.

The real challenge looming ahead isn’t just the 30,000 or more people needed for manufacturing jobs. Statistics provided by MakingYourFuture.org state that by 2025, there is expected to be a workforce deficit of 80,000 people in the Pittsburgh region.

In addition to the region’s legacy metals manufacturing jobs, the American Chemistry Council estimates that the new Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County will generate roughly 17,800 new jobs: 600 at the facility itself, 1,800 more chemical industry jobs, 8,500 supply chain jobs and 6,900 “spin-off” jobs.

According to Mitchell, some of the most in-demand jobs are for makers: machinists, mechanics, engineers, assemblers, welders and many more. While many of the jobs will need some training or certification, most do not require a four-year degree.

The website was created to help job seekers find opportunities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

To read the full article, visit the www.observer-reporter.com.