Workforce Success Story Submitted By:
Berks County Workforce Investment Board
Manufacturing employers in the Berks County region were losing their skilled industrial maintenance workers to retirement, and there was an inadequate "pipeline" of new entrants. In addition, the job requirements were shifting, requiring cross-trained technicians that had more advanced technical skills.
The employers partnered with Reading Area Community College, secondary career and technology centers, and the Berks and Lancaster County Workforce Investment Boards to address the need for workers skilled in "mechatronics" - a high-tech version of the old industrial maintenance job that combines mechanical, electrical and controls engineering with computer science. Driven by input from employer partnerships in food processing, metals and metal fabrication, plastics and other businesses, the Berks and Lancaster Workforce Investment Boards teamed with the Reading Area Community College, or RACC, to develop and offer an advanced manufacturing integrated systems technician certification program.
Outcomes & Benefits
More than 400 workers earned certification in mechatronics through this collaborative effort. The initiative expanded to include an associate degree program at RACC.
Additionally, the Berks Career and Technology Center, a secondary school career and technology education center, now allows a high school graduate to enter RACC with 15 transferable credits toward an associate degree in mechatronics engineering technology. Graduates of the associate degree program can then transfer credits to one of three baccalaureate programs: Electromechanical Engineering Technology at Penn State Berks; Mechatronics Engineering Technology at Purdue Calumet in Hammond, Ind.; or Industrial Technology at California University of Pennsylvania.
Currently, efforts are underway to help local secondary and postsecondary institutions across the state expand mechatronics training capacity to prepare more workers for these in-demand jobs.