Today's high schools are encouraging students to earn four-year degrees as a path toward a fulfilling job and comfortable life. But in recent years manufacturers have experienced a byproduct of this phenomenon: Fewer young adults are interested in hands-on work and businesses that make things are having a harder time finding qualified employees.
Manufacturers in the Reading area are not immune to this and have voiced their concerns to the Berks Economic Partnership, a regional economic development organization. While business leaders expressed concerns about being able to replace workers who retire in a few years, the economic partnership noticed want ads for skilled-labor positions that paid respectable wages.
So in January, the partnership launched a marketing campaign called “Careers in 2 Years.” It includes a website, billboards near Reading-area high schools and ads in movie theaters. The ads tout the demand and pay for professionals such as machinists ($34,780) and power plant operators ($63,070).
“These jobs are out there, and we need to start filling the pipeline,” says Aaron Costenbader, the partnership's marketing coordinator. “These are great-paying jobs and very clearly a sustainable wage for an individual and for a family.”
Costenbader says that when she talks to high school students about technical positions, they're often pleasantly surprised by how well they pay.
In the future, the campaign is expected to include information about jobs in health care and information technology. Organizers plan to gauge its effectiveness by how many students apply to local technical-training programs.
Source: Aaron Costenbader, Berks Economic Partnership
Writer: Rebecca VanderMeulen