On August 29, a newly formed team of private and public sector partners held the first formal meeting of the “Manufacturing Alliance of Chester and Delaware Counties” (MACC/DC). The group’s mission is to establish a strong manufacturing partnership to utilize available talent and resources to develop and advance the technical skills of the workforce and provide opportunities for growth and increased profitability.
MACC/DC’s first task was to survey area manufacturers in order to assess companies’ workforce and business needs. The survey revealed the greatest challenges that manufacturers face in the next three to five years revolve around workforce, and impact recruiting, hiring, growth, production, and research and development.
In the next six months, companies project over 250 manufacturing job openings; in the next three to five years, that number will grow closer to 450. Topping the list of job openings across the industry are assemblers, CNC machinists, CNC programmers, and quality control technicians. With a growing number of job openings, 83 percent of manufacturers cite finding technically skilled workers as their number one recruiting and hiring challenge. Companies indicated that the technical skills most lacking are blueprint reading, understanding production (materials, scheduling and delivery), understanding electro and mechanical concepts and reading process gauges. In addition, 48 percent indicated that new hires are lacking basic workplace skills such as strong work ethic, honesty, and following procedures.
Over the next three to five years manufactures will also be hiring 165 sales and management professionals and 150 engineers and draftsmen.
Manufacturers were asked to identify the technology, production, and research and development challenges they will face over the next one to three years. 57 percent said that implementing new technology will be a challenge. In production, 38 percent feel skills shortages will be the biggest challenge. 47 percent of manufacturers identified the cost and return on investment, and 37 percent identified qualified employees as the top two research and development challenges.
77 percent of companies project growth over the next 12 months with 23 percent of companies projecting a 10 percent or higher growth rate. The companies report the top three barriers to growth are cost of salaries, benefits and health care (64 percent), finding a qualified workforce (55 percent), and acquiring capital for expansion (45 percent).
The on-line survey was sent to 86 manufacturers in the region with a 30 percent response from companies including food, rotorcraft, valves, fittings, medical devices, foam and musical instruments.
The MACC/DC is managed by the Chester County Economic Development Council in collaboration with the Delaware County Community College, and is being funded in part with a grant from the Chester County Workforce Investment Board. The initial planning team is being led by private sector representatives from Sikorsky Global Helicopters, CNC Machining, RV Industries, Pepperidge Farms, and Penn Machining. For additional information on joining this public/private partnership, please contact Krista Kiehl at email@example.com or visit our website at: www.cceconomicdevelopment.com.
The Chester County Economic Development Council is a private, non-profit economic development organization promoting smart growth in Chester County and the surrounding region for over 50 years. The CCEDC provides proven financing solutions, cultivates workforce talent, leverages business partnerships, and fosters entrepreneurial collaboration. Together, with the support of the private and public sectors, CCEDC initiates, implements and innovates programs that improve the business community and enhance the quality of life in Chester County. For more information, visit our website, www.cceconomicdevelopment.com.
EDITORS: The following information is for immediate release. If you have any questions, please contact Leslie Rylke, Marketing and Development Coordinator of the Chester County Economic Development Council, at 610-321-8219.