While the nation’s manufacturing sector has experienced a boom in recent years, the industry is struggling to find skilled workers.
“The funny thing about it is even with that surge coming back, we are now a nation that doesn’t put a lot into manufacturing,” said Karla Trotman, chief operating officer of Electro Soft, Inc., in Montgomeryville.
“We are always telling our children to go to college and to get a white collar job, but the technical jobs such as advanced manufacturing are really suffering because we don’t have the pipeline of employees to come in with experience and take those jobs.”
Trotman wants to encourage people to look at opportunities in the manufacturing sector.
So she plans to have Electro Soft participate in the ManuFest Youth Manufacturing and Trades Expo slated for March 12 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks. The expo focuses on showing educators, parents and students in grades seven through 12 career options in the manufacturing and the construction trades.
Electro Soft, a certified veteran-owned, African American-owned business, is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of industrial electrical components. It specializes in PC board, cable, wiring harness and enclosure assemblies.
It serves about 50 companies in the aviation, rail, transit, original equipment manufacturing and defense sectors.
The company currently has 35 employees and is seeking candidates for positions as cable, wire harness and electromechanical assemblers.
Trotman’s father, Jim Wallace, a U.S. Air Force veteran, started the business 32 years ago.
When Wallace opened Electro Soft, the company focused on writing software and creating equipment for its clients.
“We found through the years that the customers had more of a desire to have a manufacturing partner,” Trotman said.
“They didn’t want to make that capital investment in machinery, hiring and training and having that staff. They didn’t want to spend a lot of money having engineers manufacturing their items so the solution was just to send it out and have it done.”
Trotman said finding qualified employees can be a challenge. And she said, “If you talk to other manufacturers in this area, everyone is going through the same thing.”
Trotman serves on the Montgomery County Workforce Development Board, which seeks to match dislocated workers with available jobs.
Electro Soft offers its employees on-the-job training and sends them to classes to receive applicable manufacturing certifications. Trotman said the company works to maintain its culture as it grows, which is a “delicate balance.”
She said, “It’s hard to train people up to the speed in which to have the skill set that you need them in order to do more complicated assembly work. It’s very intricate work that requires a very specific set of skills and training.”