A brainstorming graphic from Jill Oldham and Shelly Hinton of the Akron Canton Foodbank
Despite all the talk about jobs being outsourced to Mexico or China, a recent survey of manufacturing companies in Ohio found they are worried that they won’t be able to find enough workers. Companies and schools are beginning to collaborate to find a solution.
At a conference in Akron on Thursday, Ohio State University economist Ned Hill said the biggest reason for job losses in the manufacturing field is automation. And the biggest barrier to adding jobs is finding employees who are trained to work with it. He wants Ohio companies to bring back worker training programs. He also says companies should not be afraid to hire teenagers for part time jobs in their plants, as earlier generations learned what it meant to work.
“We understood and got experience in different types of employment situations by pushing a broom in a factory, by loading a truck in the summer,” said Hill “So by putting those barriers to having kids work in plants, factories, warehouses – yeah, you might be saving a little bit of money, but you’re also cutting off the future workforce.”
OSU Professor of Public Affairs and Regional Planning Edward W. “Ned” Hill.
Community colleges in the state are stepping up training. Para Jones, president of Stark State College, said that has been the school’s tradition and she added, businesses are coming to them again for help.
“And they are saying ‘we want to hire people; we want you to train them; we want them to come into our company at the very entry level, ready to learn and continue growing. And you will continue, Stark State, to educate these people as they move up through the career ladder at our companies.’”
Akron Public Schools plans to open a manufacturing academy at its newest high school, the replacement of Garfield and Kenmore high schools.
Manufacturing company officials and educators consider ways to solve workforce shortage
Meanwhile, the California company Haas Automation, is paying to train some Ohio teachers in the latest technology. Its director of education, Toni Neary, told the ConxusNEO manufacturing conference Thursday, how glad she is that Ohio is now giving academic credit to students who earn industry credentials in welding (AWS) and metal working (NIMS).
“This is a difference in losing a student from a machining program for a math and science credit for eligibility for graduation. It is huge,” said Neary.
Ohio is also allowing students to take the industry test called WorkKeys, which focuses on solving real world problems. The workforce organization Talent NEO is offering those tests for free in Cuyahoga and Summit County.
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Urycki, Mark. (2017, March 23). Manufacturing Companies Look for Workers. WCPN Ideastream. Retrieved from http://wcpn.ideastream.org/stateimpact/2017/03/23/manufacturing-companies-look-for-workers