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Metalworking program to launch at BCCC Perkasie Campus

A successful pilot class launching in Upper Bucks aims to meet employment needs and address a growing skilled labor shortage in regional manufacturing.

Bucks County Community College will launch the first Metalworking Training Program Feb. 26, with the goal of duplicating its successful 12-week program located at the Bristol campus.

In partnership with Upper Bucks County Technical School, in Bedminster Township, hands on practical training will take place at the career and technical school campus. The Metalwork Training Program includes theory and hands on skills assessment, and introduces participants to the fundamental concepts and skills required to be a machinist in the field of advanced manufacturing. A participant can earn eight stackable credentials in 12 weeks to prepare for entry-level positions in manufacturing and will receive a certificate of completion, plus OSHA10 and Forklift Safety Training certification, and sit for the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) exam for Measurement, Materials, and Safety Certification.

“This is also aimed to compliment the Upper Bucks County Technical Schools newly launched adult education programs. These are great jobs for anyone,” said Tara King, Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce executive director. 

“The program will prepare participants for jobs in metal fabrication, machine and CNC operation, welding and assembling positions,” said Susan Herring, interim executive director for the Center for Workforce Development at BCCC in Newtown.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, there were 264,000 new job openings in manufacturing in 2014, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported over $5.4 trillion in goods and products were manufactured in the U.S. in 2016. 

The Pew Research Center report cited dollars based on the value of the dollar in 2009 and said food, beverages tobacco, chemical products and automotive made up the bulk of the manufactured output. 

Herring said the college’s Bristol program launched in 2014, had a 92 percent job placement rate for those who completed it. She hopes the Perkasie program will become just as successful.

“The goal for the launch is to increase awareness to the region, (for) Upper Bucks and Lehigh Valley employers,” said John Flanagan, director of Bucks County Workforce Development Board, Inc., in Bristol.

Manufacturing in the Greater Lehigh Valley continues to grow and Upper Bucks County’s contribution, along with major arterial highways for transportation and distribution to Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York, places it front and center stage. 

“Similar to most areas there is a skilled labor shortage, especially in STEM based professions such as metalworking and industrial maintenance,” Flanagan said.

Both Herring and Flanagan said opportunities have been created since the largely- baby boom aged manufacturing workforce began retiring, and filling those jobs has not kept pace.

“The average age of the manufacturing workforce is more than 55 years old,” Flanagan explained.

He said proactive employers are seeking talent to train and replace those outgoing positions to make sure workflows aren’t interrupted.

What’s more, manufacturing employers want to educate middle and high school students and their families about lucrative trade positions to attract and retain fresh talent.

“First and foremost, we are listening to employer needs,” Flanagan said. He said aligning employer needs with training helps drive appropriate curriculum and increase the skilled talent pool.

For more information about career training development in technical careers, visit www.ubtech.org and select the “Programs” tab.