Southwestern Pennsylvania manufacturers cite applicants’ lack of basic skills in survey

By Stephen Huba, TribLive

A majority of Southwestern Pennsylvania businesses responding to an ongoing Catalyst Connection survey say “basic employability skills” are the No. 1 deficiency of job applicants.

About 54 percent of the businesses that have responded to the Manufacturing Employment Demand Study ranked skills such as attendance, timeliness and work ethic as the chief things lacking in applicants.

The study, funded by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, seeks to better understand the current and projected demand for workers in the manufacturing sector, said Petra Mitchell, Catalyst Connection president and CEO.

The study will look at the number of workers needed and the skill sets required, with a view toward developing an apprenticeship program for high-demand occupations, Mitchell said.

Other findings from the survey so far include:

• About 22 percent of manufacturers have five to 10 entry-level production jobs that have been open longer than 30 days.

• For about 45 percent of manufacturers, the unfilled positions have had a significant impact on employee and customer satisfaction, production costs, on-time delivery, and sales and employment growth.

• Because of the skilled worker shortage, about 38 percent of the respondents said they are likely to outsource products and business or lose a customer.

The survey takes about 18 minutes to complete and can be accessed online .

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.