For manufacturers, filling open jobs has been an ongoing challenge in recent years, but the current conditions are reaching serious levels, as the number of open jobs exceeds the number of people looking for work.

Manufacturing plays a key role in the regional economy. Southeast Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector brought in $24.2 billion in earnings in 2020, generated $712.8 million in taxes, and contributed $52.8 billion to the gross regional product of Southeast Pennsylvania.

Responding to this workforce shortage is now more vital than ever.

Labor Study Findings

DVIRC & MontcoWorks commissioned Lightcast (formerly Emsi burning glass) to conduct a Labor Market study for Philadelphia, Reading, & Lancaster. Here are some of the highlights.

Production Jobs/Careers

  • 22,000 openings per year on average, and
  • 20,000 of them are entry-level openings

Maintenance and Repair Technician Jobs/Careers

  • 10,000 openings per year on average, and
  • 7,700 of them are entry-level openings, and
  • 2,600 of entry-level openings are for advanced technicians

Engineering Jobs/Careers

  • 2,500 openings per year on average, and
  • with manufacturing engineering openings,
  • 1,800 of them are entry-level openings

For Production, Maintenance, and Repair Technician Jobs/Careers

  • 20+ schools with aligned CTE programs and 120+ programs – graduating ~350 – 400 per year

For Advanced Technician Jobs/Careers

  • Postsecondary system graduating 1,800 students annually

For Engineering Jobs/Careers

  • Postsecondary system graduating close to 3,500 engineers at the BA+ level, with up to 2,100 aligned BUT a high fraction choose other sectors (78%) or leave the region
  • Outdated Perception of Manufacturing
  • Aging Workforce: Close to one-third of the manufacturing workforce is at risk of retiring
  • Lean into Inclusivity: SE PA is less diverse than local workforce, embrace DE&I
  • NOT recruitment and retention – BOTH
  • Competition from other sectors
  • Use the region’s great education and workforce assets to their fullest
  • Future-proof workforce readiness with new skills and technology

Download the Study


Taking Action

Near Term Actions

  • Hire Workforce Director at DVIRC
  • Increase near-term supply of workers
  • Develop Digital Platform
  • Develop a Communications Campaign
    • What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?
    • The Dream Team
  • Broaden DVIRC’s Service Offerings to support recruitment, hiring, and retention

Mid-Term Actions

  • Increase enrollment in manufacturing education and training programs
  • Focus on Life Sciences/Medical Devices
  • Increase Number of Paid Internships
  • Apprenticeships/pre-Apprenticeships
  • Support the Department of Defense

Long-Term Actions

  • Education & Training Scholarship Pool
  • Connect with and deploy assets of Manufacturing USA Institutes
  • Manufacturing Innovation Center
  • Address New & Emerging Challenges

Programs for Engagement

DVIRC Dream Team

Dream Team Banner 2

DVIRC Dream Team is a manufacturing career awareness program that recruits young manufacturing professionals from area companies to serve as ‘ambassadors’ for manufacturing careers by visiting targeted high schools and sharing about the requirements and rewards of their profession to students, teachers, and administrators.

The goal of this effort is to get more high-school students to think about manufacturing-related post-secondary education and careers.

Learn More ➡

What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?


The “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” (WSCAM) statewide video contest was designed to help build a strong pipeline of talent and give middle school-aged students a new perspective on exciting STEM career opportunities that exist at area manufacturing companies. The ultimate goal of WSCAM is to increase enrollment in technical education programs, which will support the local manufacturers’ needs for talent and create viable career opportunities for youth—two key contributors to local and regional economic stability. The students improved skills and career awareness through training, visiting a local manufacturer, interviewing workers and creating a short video to share with their peers and community in the video contest and awards ceremony. The student video contest received 129,897 votes over a three-day voting period. Both set records in this region’s third year in the contest.

DVIRC is proud that the state-wide winner of the WSCAM contest was Macron Dynamics and Neil A. Armstrong Middle School from Bucks County, PA! Watch their video here.

Learn More ➡

Manufacturing Workforce Summit


More than 5,500 small and mid-sized manufacturers (SMMs) serve the Philadelphia region, yet until DVIRC created the Manufacturing Summit, there was no single organization or event in the area that convened SMMs to network, share best practices, and discuss the state of the industry.

For the past seven years, DVIRC has hosted an annual manufacturing summit, which brings together industry leaders, local and national technology companies, large manufacturers, small to mid-sized manufacturers (SMMs), academics, makers, designers, and hardware entrepreneurs and students for a day of innovation and education.

The purpose of the Manufacturing Summit is to celebrate our community of manufacturers and cultivate new relationships and opportunities. Guest speakers share business practices, and inspire and challenge leaders to think differently about their businesses. Attendees explore and learn how to thrive in the midst of accelerated

disruptions not experienced in over a century, while collaborating with the diverse ecosystem of private, public, and academic thought leadership. Exhibitors demonstrate technology-driven manufacturing, reinventing American manufacturing ingenuity and leadership for the 21st century.

While the theme of the Manufacturing Summit changes every year, what remains constant is the need to address the workforce issue facing the manufacturing community, and the need to fill the talent pipeline as a majority of manufacturers move into retirement. Additionally, the rate at which advanced technologies are occurring is changing how modern manufacturing gets done. Each year, the Summit features a variety of speakers and breakout sessions specifically focused on addressing these and other issues, offering manufacturers new ways of thinking about how to solve their business problems to help them thrive and grow.

Manufacturing USA Access Project


Cutting-edge innovation in domestic manufacturing, historically a critical pillar of the U.S. economy and national security, has been dramatically impacted by foreign competition in recent decades.

To counteract this and to strengthen the capabilities and competitive positions of small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) critical to the Department of Defense (DoD) supply chain, DoD’s Office of Economic Adjustment has provided funding to DVIRC for the past two years to help SMMs accelerate the adoption and deployment of Advanced Manufacturing Technologies (AMTs) in their companies.

As part of this project—known as the Manufacturing USA Access Project, or MAP—DVIRC has been working to bring Manufacturing USA Institute education and training programming into the Philadelphia region to develop the talent required to take full advantage of AMT investments and to support existing education and training programs through the following:

The MAP Capstone Case Study Pilot
One of the main goals of this Pilot was to build the talent pipeline in the Greater Philadelphia region by giving students opportunities to learn about and solve real-world AMT problems in collaboration with SMMs. In this capstone case study project, students from regional universities worked with Manufacturing USA Institutes and their SMM members on key AMT issues, opportunities, and challenges. Through this opportunity, students received unprecedented exposure to AMT and applications, and SMMs gained access to the emerging high quality talent pool with specific knowledge of AMTs and needed interdisciplinary work experience.

As we enter into our third year of the MAP project with DOD-OEA, we strive to develop the following programs:

Develop an apprenticeship program to develop a talent pipeline model with SMMs and third-party AMT integrators. Individuals who participate in these apprenticeships will then serve as “in-sourced” talent for SMMs to help them implement AMTs.

Develop internships, co-op opportunities, and capstone projects for university graduate and undergraduate students

Entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship Models with Product Developers and SMMs
Create “value exchange” opportunities that benefit both parties, including but not limited to joint design and engineering projects, short-run production projects, and project-specific AMT-related projects.

Wall of Fame

We thank our donors and honor those who have given $1,000+ in support of the workforce initiative.

Lucifer Furnaces

James R. Williams

The Philadelphia Foundation
Ehmke Manufacturing