Manufacturing companies in Central Pennsylvania are hiring, but hundreds of jobs are going unfilled because there are not enough qualified workers.
Employers say these are not your traditional blue collars jobs, instead they are being called ‘gold collar’ jobs because of the family sustaining wages they can provide.
Metco Industries, Inc recently expanded their facility. The powdered metal plant is located in St. Marys, Elk County.
“I started at Metco right at the beginning of my senior year in high school through the co-op program, ” said Michael Krise.
Krise or the last 15 years. He said he makes good money with great benefits.
“It’s very stable employment. I’ve been here for almost 15 years, I’ve never been laid off yet. It seems to always be busy, always expanding,” said Krise.
The jobs are available, but it’s a career path fewer people are choosing. The company’s vice president said there is a huge talent shortage.
BUT IT’S A CAREER PATH FEWER PEOPLE ARE CHOOSING. RODNEY BRENNEN, THE COMPANY’S VICE PRESIDENT, SAYS THERE IS A HUGE TALENT SHORTAGE
“Young people always want something else, more high-tech job. They think this is down and dirty and not high-tech.,” said Rodney Brennen, Metco V.P.
Many of today’s factory jobs are just the opposite, as is the case in Riggs Industries in Somerset County. The company employs about 500 people. Inside their J&J Truck Bodies Facility men and women are building state of the art equipment. They are building aluminum bodies for dump trucks. This work requires skilled welders and fabricators.
“Our country was built on people getting their hands dirty and their shirts dirty. At the end of the day they produced a tangible product. It’s not like it was in the old days. Now you’re going to work with things,” said Shawn Kaufman, Human Resource Director for Riggs Industries.
As the baby boomer generation retires companies, like Riggs Industries, are struggling to attract younger workers.
Kaufman said parents and educators have been pushing college over learning a trade.
“We’re having to go out and actively recruit people,” admitted Kaufman. “We spend a lot of time in the schools.”
The Challenge Program, Inc. is working with companies across Pennsylvania trying to educate parents and teenagers about these jobs of tomorrow.
The organization says by the year 2022, 80% of career opportunities in Pennsylvania will not require a bachelor’s degree.
Many of these jobs pay between $40,000 and $80,000 a year. At a time when many young adults are graduating with tons of student debt, Kaufman and other employers are encouraging parents to rethink college.
“If I could find 20 qualified people, I would hire them absolutely right now,” said Kaufman.
The jobs in most demand include: welders, fabricators, CNC machine operators, painters, and mechanics.
Michael Krise has no regrets, “Small town, you’re not just a number here. We’re all kind of like a big family. We’re friends outside of work.”
Krise said when you add in the cost of living and the ability to stay in his hometown he said it’s a better quality of life.
LOOKING FOR WORK?
We’re provided a few links to local employers and job agencies that are working hard to fill vacancies.
This group was created by the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce Industrial Committee to provide a central location for job seekers and employers to find opportunities available. Any Elk County Employer is welcome to post job openings. Please limit your contact information to an email address. We will do our best to keep out spammers. No advertising allowed of any kind, This is a jobs group only. If you are caught advertising you will be banned without notice.
THE CHALLENGE PROGRAM INC
2nd Annual Polytechnic Career Awareness Event
Date: March 16, 2017
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Where: Somerset Area High School
The Challenge Program, Inc. presents a unique opportunity for parents & other community members to learn about the highly-skilled trade occupations available in our area. Traditional blue-collar jobs are now known as “gold-collar” jobs because the positions offer family-sustaining wages and have become highly skilled and technical.
These jobs provide innovative, stimulating work environments. Many of these jobs do not require tradition four year post-secondary schooling, but rather a mix of technical training and education. In fact, students can prepare for them by attending local career and technology centers while they are still in high school and/or while pursuing post-secondary education.
For more information visit www.tcpinc.org