June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
13.864.1 - 13.864.11
Manufacturing a Workforce for the Future
Abstract This paper will describe the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s (PASSHE) three-year $810,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) program to develop a full pipeline of students from grade 9 through 16 focused on careers in advanced manufacturing technology to address Pennsylvania’s critical manufacturing shortages. The NSF-ATE project focuses on recruitment and retention of students from middle school through high school to post-secondary education by marketing, recruitment, mentoring and updating manufacturing curriculum. Females and minorities receive special outreach and mentoring.
The project focuses on two PA regions: Allegheny and Washington Counties, (southwestern PA) and Lancaster County (south-central PA). The southwestern PA educational partners include California University of PA, Community College of Allegheny County, Steel Center Career and Technology High School, and five of its sending school districts. The south-central PA educational partners include Millersville University, Harrisburg Area Community College, Lancaster County Career and Technology High School, and five of its sending school districts.
Manufacturing Workforce Shortage
The impetus for the 2006 NSF-ATE proposal was continued reporting by PA manufacturers experiencing a shortage of advanced manufacturing workers. Manufacturing remains vital to Pennsylvania’s economy accounting for 12% of the employment and more than 20% of wages paid. These workforce shortages threaten PA’s manufacturing base. One explanation for the shortage is rapid technological change from a traditional labor-intensive industry to a highly technologically skilled advanced manufacturing one. A study commissioned in 2004 of the dynamics of PA manufacturing, titled Manufacturing Pennsylvania’s Future1 stated that ‘manufacturing remains an essential element of PA’s economy, contributing $64 billion annually to the Gross State Product. This is by far the largest share of any sector.’ Governor Rendell’s Manufacturing Work Group published additional findings in which business leaders reported that innovation and workforce investment were among the seven most important challenges facing PA manufacturing. The findings of a 2005 NAM Skills Gap2 reinforced previous manufacturing labor shortage reports by stating … ‘90 percent of respondents indicated a moderate to severe shortage of qualified skilled production employees. These skills shortages are having a widespread impact on manufacturers’ abilities to achieve production levels, increase productivity, and meet customer demand.’
An additional impetus for the NSF-ATE proposal was reporting in the 2003 National Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing3 that recommended outreach efforts begin at the middle school. Delaying these efforts may preclude students from the required academic courses and allows time for the outdated stereotypes to take hold, eliminating manufacturing as a career choice. Today’s advanced manufacturing employees need to be educated in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Komacek, S., & Adukaitis, C. (2008, June), Manufacturing A Workforce Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3522
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