At a Glance
The ManuFest Expo in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, is an annual, half-day event designed to introduce and expose high school students and their parents to the manufacturing sector, the high-demand careers within the industry, and the postsecondary institutions that offer related degree and training programs.
ManuFest is an initiative of the Montgomery County Commerce Department, MontcoWorks, the Bucks/Montco Manufacturing Alliances, the Bucks County Workforce Development Board, and the Montgomery County Community College in partnership with the MidAtlantic Employers’ Association.
Origin / Implementation
In 2014, MontcoWorks, the Workforce Development Board of Montgomery County, with the support of the county commissioners, facilitated the Youth MEGA Manufacturing Summit. The event was driven by the recognized need to preserve manufacturing’s most valuable resources – skilled workers. It is part of a local, state, and national focus on changing the perspective of the manufacturing industry, attracting young talent, and recognizing the industry’s impact on the American economy.
In 2015, the event was transformed into ManuFest and was organized by Montgomery County in partnership with the MidAtlantic Employers’ Association.
The 2016 event, held on a Saturday in March, was organized as a large expo and took place at Hatboro-Horsham High School. The event offered a keynote address and breakout sessions where parents and students met with representatives from local manufacturing companies, career technical schools, colleges, and more.
Each year, the organizers of ManuFest arrange for high-interest demonstrations or displays at the event. At ManuFest Expo 2016, a KNIGHT robot, used for bomb removal, was exhibited. In addition, North Montco Technical Career Center brought engaging equipment for students to see and use.
Registration for the event is free but required. Organizers reach out to schools and employers to attract attendees and exhibitors through different media using press releases, presentations to high schools via social media, and the ManuFest website.
Results / Impact
Attendance for ManuFest has increased each year. In 2016, over 300 people attended including 190 students and more than 70 parents. Sixty representatives from 35 manufacturers hosted booths at the event.
Discussions for the 2017 ManuFest event are underway and the format is again being reevaluated. One consideration is to offer a weekday event for students and an evening event for parents. Event organizers are also exploring ways in which student attendees may have easy access to career counseling at or shortly after the event.
Montgomery County Workforce Development Board
Jennifer Butler, Interim Executive Director
MidAtlantic Employers’ Association
Clara Console, Director of Community Projects