NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Penn State New Kensington, along with its Digital Foundry at New Kensington initiative, is launching an entry-level certificate program specifically for those wishing to enter the manufacturing field or those who want to strengthen their knowledge to be more competitive in the workforce. The Manufacturing and Digital Fundamentals certificate program, which begins in late March 2022, is accepting registrations.
“The goal of the program is to provide individuals the opportunity to learn the basics of manufacturing so they can be attractive and ready talent for local and regional manufacturers,” said Steve Leonard, operations and program manager for the Digital Foundry at New Kensington.
In addition to teaching the skillsets needed to enter the workforce, the program also hopes to help the industry find the right talent and fill the manufacturing skills gap.
“Local manufacturing businesses are finding it very difficult to find workers with enough experience to be able work effectively in a manufacturing environment,” explained Leonard. “Most often, manufacturers must spend considerable amounts of time working with and training new hires just to meet the bare minimum requirements to work in their facility. The other challenge is the lack of basic manufacturing understanding with the available talent base.”
According to a report by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, more than 4 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled by 2030, and half of those jobs could be left unfilled without proper workforce development and skills building. The challenge is something that the New Kensington campus and Digital Foundry hope to help overcome for employers and those seeking a career pathway.
“Employers can use this program to orient and expose new hires to manufacturing,” said Patricia Hollinger, director of continuing education at the campus. “The program can also help clarify many questions or concerns that a new employee may have. Organizations can truly use this certificate program as a part of their company’s orientation and onboarding programs.”
Registered participants will receive an overview of the manufacturing field; receive an understanding of design and manufacturing capabilities; learn about planning, assurance, control and improvement; be able to apply data analysis and visualization to decision making processes; and learn about digital design tools in a smart manufacturing environment. An added emphasis will also be placed on building essential “soft” skills such as critical thinking, communication, problem solving, ideation and teamwork.
“The program will be delivered in a highly interactive learning environment where ‘learn by doing’ is stressed,” added Leonard. “This will be done through interactive training sessions, individual and team-based activities/exercises, local expert speakers in manufacturing and in-class access to technology.”
The 14-week course will be delivered at the Penn State New Kensington campus via weekly three-hour courses starting in March. The in-person components will be augmented with online, interactive assignments, powered by ToolingU. Those who successfully complete all the classes will earn a Manufacturing and Digital Fundamentals program certificate from the University and 4.5 continuing education units (CEUs).
Tuition assistance may be available for eligible individuals through the PA CareerLink-Alle-Kiski. Those interested in learning more about funding available should contact 724-334-8600.
The course has also been approved by the Bureau of Workforce Development and operations, allowing the program to be included on Pennsylvania’s Eligible Training Provider list (ETPL) and for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program.