Changing the stigma to get young people into manufacturing careers

Local News

Right now, there are 200 machinist jobs available around Youngstown with no one qualified to fill them.

The positions start at $13 to $16 an hour and could be $25 to $30 an hour jobs in five to six years. The problem is getting young people interested and into trade schools, which was why earlier on Monday, Ohio Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted visited Youngstown.

He spent his afternoon touring Brilex Industries with plant manager Ryan Engelhardt.

“We’re building an overhead roof for the Texas Rangers stadium right now and it’s nearing completion,” Engelhardt said.

The visit was part of Husted’s Workforce Tour. He’s traveling Ohio to meet people running manufacturing plants and the state’s career and technical centers.

“We have plenty of training programs, we have plenty of work, we have plenty of jobs, we just don’t have plenty of people enrolled in those,” Husted said.

“That problem for us is continuing to get the workforce we need into the talent pipeline, into the local schools, into the tech centers,” Engelhardt said.

Engelhardt told Husted about the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition — 40 companies working together to encourage young people to consider a career in manufacturing.

“We’ve got seven apprentices currently running, so two years ago we had zero. So I would say, yes, it is currently working,” Engelhardt said.

Convincing young people that manufacturing is a viable career was part of a roundtable discussion later on. Husted has already talked with the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association about what’s being done around Youngstown.

“About using the model you have here, supporting that model,” he said.

“The other area, since you asked where you could help, is policy,” said Traci Hostetler, with the Mahoning County Educational Service Center.

She told Husted her goal is to get students credentialed but still, they must pass the required testing to graduate.

“Perhaps they don’t need both — end-of-course exams and industry credentials. One pathway to graduation should sort of outrule the other,” Hostetler said.

“We’re not getting the folks there because I truly believe that the stigma is it’s an old steel mill,” Engelhardt said.

He asked Husted to help change that stigma.

“There’s no manufacturer here for a manufacturer that belongs to the MVMC that doesn’t care about safety, that doesn’t care about the quality of the atmosphere, of their workforce,” Engelhardt said.

Husted reminded everyone that training for manufacturing jobs is free — paid for by tax dollars. If you’d like to enroll in training, you can do so on the Ohio Means Jobs website.

The state is sponsoring In-Demand Jobs Week May 6 through 10 as a way to promote work in manufacturing.

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