On February 7, Fathom had the pleasure of attending the Northwest Ohio Manufacturing Forum in Perrysburg, Ohio. Manufacturers, service providers, economic development professionals and educators from all over Ohio met to discuss the most pressing issues in the manufacturing industry and hear from industry leaders.
The biggest take-away from the forum was that manufacturing organizations are struggling to find qualified employees, even with the high unemployment rate in Ohio. Even though this is a major pain point in the industry, the meeting highlighted what companies, the government and various organizations are doing to combat the problem.
Organizations like GROB Systems have apprenticeship programs that offer young people the opportunity to receive education and training, while getting paid. It introduces them to career opportunities and many of the program graduates stay with the company after graduation. In addition to GROB Systems, OhioMeansJobs.com is helping hiring organizations and those looking for work streamline the process. By assessing a job seeker’s skills, OhioMeansJobs.com matches them with potential job opportunities that might be suited for their skills.
But as we learned at the forum, the issue really boils down to changing the preconceived ideas of what working in the manufacturing industry is like. The overall consensus was that a mindset change needs to occur with parents, educators and school counselors/advisors. Manufacturing work is perceived as low-skilled, low paying, and with no room for career advancement. Many manufacturing companies recognize the need to start talking to students at the high school level and work with staff at high schools to get the right message across. Trades are a viable option for many students, but they’re not being educated enough about this today.
In addition to discussing how to attract young talent and bridge the skills gap, Senator Rob Portman, a manufacturing industry champion, talked about the state of manufacturing today. Senator Portman stressed the importance of skilled workers and the sense of urgency to balance trade and begin exporting more.
The manufacturing industry is alive and thriving in Ohio, and it’s forums like this that make us excited to help manufacturing companies change misconceptions, bridge the skills gap and grow the industry. Contact Patricia Thibault if you’re interested in learning how we can help your manufacturing company.
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