“Skill Up” Initiatives Promote Manufacturing Careers

For Immediate Release: September 26, 2013

Patricia A. Felise
MRC Marketing & Communications
610-758-6069 or pat.felise@mrcpa.org

“Skill Up” Initiatives Promote Manufacturing Careers

Greater Lehigh Valley, PA – The Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC) announced today that the countdown to Manufacturing Day is in its final stages and there are hundreds of Manufacturing Day events that will happen all around the country on Friday, October 4th.  The Lehigh Valley is no exception, but there is a unique twist happening here.

Manufacturing Day was created to draw attention to great careers in manufacturing.  Thanks to the “Skill Up” grant, Jack Pfunder of MRC has been working at the cutting edge of a solution to solve the manufacturing skills gap and change the image of manufacturing right here in the Lehigh Valley.  This grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) enabled MRC to partner with the DaVinci Science Center (DSC), the Lehigh Career & Technical Institute (LCTI), and the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board (LVWIB) to make it all happen.

“All the pieces are falling into place,” says Jack Pfunder, President  & CEO of Manufacturers Resource Center. “The school districts and superintendents are working alongside manufacturers and everyone is fully engaged.  The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber formed a Manufacturing Council giving us a venue for manufacturers to meet and become involved, then the Manufacturing Day revolution comes along and propels manufacturing to the national stage. What could be better?”

To celebrate Manufacturing Day, 1,000 Lehigh Valley students will visit manufacturers who offered to host plant tours. To facilitate the process, the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board is funding the bussing to transport everyone so they can see firsthand that modern manufacturing is technology driven and offers good-paying jobs.

But there’s more. Long after the October 4th Manufacturing Day passes, focus on manufacturing will continue in the Lehigh Valley thanks to several centerpieces of the Lehigh Valley Skill-Up Initiative.  Nineteen student teams from 16 school districts will be paired with manufacturers and teacher coaches to compete in a video contest, “What’s so cool about manufacturing?”  Video equipment has been purchased and donated to the school districts courtesy of community contributors, so students can gain exposure from professionals and learn how to shoot, edit, and produce videos.  Lehigh & Northampton County school districts will participate in the contest, and the entire Lehigh Valley will be able to vote on line for their favorite videos.  Then, a “Video Academy Awards” event will be held in January at a gala event at the DaVinci Science Center for students and parents, educators, manufacturers, and sponsors.  PBS 39 / WLVT is helping with the project and adding to the manufacturing buzz, as well.

As part of the MRC-led Skill Up Workforce Development Project, the Da Vinci Science Center is leading the creation of the Dream It. Do It. Pennsylvania website in partnership with MRC, LCTI, and LVWIB. The site will permit access to a nationally recognized brand, a robust support network, and the leverage of The Manufacturing Institute’s affiliation with the National Association of Manufacturers to attract students to manufacturing careers and provide resources for students, their families, educators, and manufacturers, too.  Site content will be expanded in the months ahead.  To see videos and learn more about the student video contest, “What’s so cool about manufacturing?” visit www.dreamitdoitpa.com.

“Changing the image of manufacturing has been our passion for a long time, but once it became a community effort, that’s when everything began to click.  The Skill-Up grant was the catalyst that ignited our efforts and helped us to find creative ways to change the image of manufacturing, standardize curriculums, promote affordable career paths, and get to the root of solving the manufacturing skills gap,” says Jack. “We think we are on to something here in Pennsylvania that can be replicated across the country.”

The one-year Skill Up project is funded by the $298,500 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).  If interested in further details about this Lehigh Valley manufacturing career campaign and ways it has empowered the community to take action.  Jack Pfunder is available for interviews.  Please call 610-758-5599.


The Manufacturers Resource Center is a nationally recognized leader in manufacturing assistance providing innovative custom solutions for process improvements, technology acceleration, market expansion, workforce development and supply chain management.  MRC is a national affiliate of the NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST-MEP), a member of the Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center Network (IRCs) and a member of the Lehigh Valley Partnership for Regional Economic Performance (PREP), funded in part by the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development’s “Discovered in PA, Developed in PA” program.  For more information about MRC services, please visit: http://www.mrcpa.org.  For additional information, please contact Pat Felise at 610-758-5599, or info@mrcpa.org. 

Lehigh Career & Technical Institute – Since opening its doors in 1971, Lehigh Career & Technical Institute maintains a reputation as one of the finest career and technical schools in the nation.  In fact LCTI is the largest career and technical school in Pennsylvania and the third largest in the country. For additional information, please visit www.lcti.org.

The Da Vinci Science Center contains more than 200 fun, interactive, hands-on exhibits that stimulate curiosity and intellectual exploration. Its mission is to promote learning about science, math, and technology through hands-on problem solving.  For more information, please visit http://www.davincisciencecenter.org/

The Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board was established under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, and their vision is a world-class competitive workforce to support economic growth that is employer driven and aligned with education and the community focusing on targeted industry clusters.  For additional information, please visit http://www.lvwib.org.

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