Pa. Industrial Centers Aid Manufacturers

ERIE, Pa. — To alleviate the labor shortage in the manufacturing sector, the Northwest Industrial Research Center here is helping companies attract, develop and retain employees. One of seven such centers in Pennsylvania, its footprint includes 13 counties.

The NWIRC ramped up its workforce efforts by coordinating student tours of factories, launching student-run manufacturing enterprises and starting the first Uniquely Abled Academy in Pennsylvania. The UAA matches young adults with high-functioning autism with high-demand jobs as CNC machine operators.

Over the past 12 months, manufacturers that used Industrial Resource Center services statewide avoided 4,099 layoffs while adding 1,226 full-time workers to their payrolls, according to Robert Zaruta, president and CEO of NWIRC. These companies also realized $398.9 million in retained sales and secured $108.9 million of new customer orders.