In a measurement of jobs by sector in Erie County, Erie Vital Signs makes note of the top three industries in the area: Healthcare and Social Assistance; Manufacturing; and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities. Together, these sectors alone employed approximately 46 percent of Erie's workforce in 2016.
Manufacturing (albeit not as large an employer as in days past in particular) has historically been a stalwart of high employment. Residents look to the stability of this sector as a bellweather of the overall economy. National trends however suggest a major complication. While the unemployment rate for young workers (ages 18-24) remains high, employers in the manufacturing industry continue to struggle to find qualified workers for their firms.
A Complicated Pathway
Firms in Erie are not immune to this dilemma; employers must continually find and place workers to fill skilled positions. 23 percent of Erie's adult residents have earned a Bachelor's Degree or higher, and an additional 24 percent of residents have completed some college credits or earned an Associate's Degree. Regardless, many of today's skilled positions require specialized additional training.
The creation of coordinated, career-oriented pathways driven by community employers is an essential response to this complication. Career pathways help to educate individuals in addition to making them valuable assets in areas of high demand. Case studies in areas with similar employment issues also demonstrate that community colleges increase educational access, and, as a result, have a positive impact on career readiness, individual well-being and long-term economic security.
How to Get Involved
The Erie Community Foundation supports a number of established career pathways programs and has made progress in recent years with the promotion of a local community college. Currently, Erie has a number of existing career pathway services such as Career Street and Eagle's Nest. However, the capacity of and access to such quality career preparation programs are essential to coordinated, workforce development and placement to meet the needs of Erie's economy and for life fulfillment. If you are interested in this vital aspect of Erie's economic development, contact the Foundation for more details.