YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A manufacturing network has created an apprenticeship model to attract young people to machining, and companies who join the model will receive up to $6,000 for each apprentice.
In eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, nearly 7,000 people will retire from the manufacturing industry in the next decade. The U.S. Department of Labor recognized this need and awarded the Greater Oh-Penn Manufacturing Apprenticeship Network (the Network) a $3 million grant focused on building local manufacturing apprenticeship programs.
This grant provides reimbursement funding to companies located in the 14-county region of Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, and Warren, in this state, and Ashtabula, Columbiana, Geauga, Mahoning, Portage, and Trumbull, in Ohio.
Companies who join the model early are eligible for a reimbursement of up to $6,000 per apprentice.
Jessica Driscoll, media management for the Network, said the biggest demand for machinists comes out of Mahoning County and Erie County areas.
While thousands of retirements are expected in the industry in the region over the next 10 years, young people aren’t pursuing manufacturing careers in large numbers, Driscoll said.
While there are many opinions about why this is, Driscoll said a cultural push to go to college is a major reason fewer young people are taking up skilled trades.
She said another reason people may be dissuaded from manufacturing is the perception that it’s a “dirty field,” meaning it’s unsafe and unsanitary.
Times have changed, Driscoll said, and with newer machinery and safety regulations, that old image is outdated.
Through its group-sponsored apprenticeship model, the Network is hoping to attract the next generation of skilled workers.
“We want to get young people interested, and give them [the] basic skills they need,” Driscoll said.
Jessica Borza, the Network’s project lead, said employers often express to the organization how overwhelming administering an apprenticeship program can be.
“Manufacturers from throughout the 14 counties led the effort to create common standards and curriculum by working together.”
The group’s sponsored model is focused on machining and experienced staff is available to assist a company to:
— Understand the registered apprenticeship training model
— Identify existing models for the occupations employers need
— Connect you with appropriate resources to assist with your program
— Draft Standards of Apprenticeship, on-the-job training, and classroom instruction outlines based upon your input
— Submit your registration paperwork to the state apprenticeship agency for full recognition in the National Registered Apprenticeship System
— Assist you with program updates as your workforce needs evolve
Bill Hilbert Jr., president of Reddog Industries, has become an early adopter of the group-sponsored model apprenticeship.
“The Network staff held our hand through the process; and we were relieved to find that many of the things we needed to develop were readily available,” said Hilbert. “It was a little bit scary at first, not knowing what exactly we would need to start a qualified apprenticeship program, but we found the group process to be quick and efficient.”
Companies that register a new apprenticeship program and sign-up for the Network’s model by Sept. 30 are eligible for a $6,000 reimbursement.
After Sept. 30, companies will be eligible for a $5,000 reimbursement.
A wealth of information about careers in manufacturing can be found online, at industryneedsyou.com.
Industry Needs You is an outreach campaign on behalf of the Oh-Penn Manufacturing Collaborative, which is a partnership between the Industry Partners of Lawrence and Mercer Counties of Pennsylvania and the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition.
The campaign’s mission is to drum up interest in manufacturing careers amount young people in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, and connect them with opportunities.
Skilled trades are the third most in-demand employment category — after engineering and nursing — in the United States.
Manufacturing employs nearly 40,000 workers and accounts for 11 percent of all the jobs in the Oh-Penn Interstate Region. It is the third largest industry behind health care/social assistance and retail trade.
From 2009 to 2011, the Oh-Penn Interstate Region experienced 7-percent growth in manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing now employs nearly 40,000 workers in the region, according to the Oh-Penn Manufacturing Collaborative.
The average annual earnings of an experienced manufacturing worker in the Oh-Penn Interstate Region is $69,454. To put that in perspective, the average annual wage for the region is $39,283.
In the 14-county Greater Oh-Penn Manufacturing Apprenticeship Network, there are 2,833 manufacturing openings annually.
In addition, 6,686 adults over age 55 will retire from the industry within the next 10 years.
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