Philly school touted as model for manufacturing-workforce development in Pa.

What will it take to build more manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania, a state that used to thrive on such work? Well, for starters, a workforce with the skills sought by next-generation factories. To make that point, state officials toured a Philadelphia school that’s trying to teach needed skills.

The backdrop was perfect. Welding equipment and stacks of practice joints sat behind those speaking at the event at the Edison/Fareira High School in North Philadelphia.

Christopher Torres, 17, listened as Julie Hearthway, state Secretary of Labor and Industry, touted a new report from the Governor’s Manufacturing Advisory Council that offers recommendations on how to bring modern manufacturing jobs to the state.

One the key ideas is more training of the type Torres is getting at the school.

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“Everything is hands on,” Torres said. “I’ve got a passion. It’s my passion, the welding … messing with my hands.”

“It started out with some selfishness. We needed qualified employees, and couldn’t find any,” says Gary Fudala, vice president of operations with PTR Baler, an industry player that has partnered with the school for almost a decade.

Hearthway said the state wants to see more partnerships like this one.

“Manufacturing was a core industry in Pennsylvania, it’s coming back,” she says.

But the report notes the manufacturing coming back is increasingly technology driven. This demands different training and skills from workers. The report recommends expanding career and technical education in the state, with the industrial sector pitching in help create standard curricula.

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