ERIE – In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, Industrial Sales and Manufacturing (ISM) recently held a press event to share its experience as one of the Greater Oh-Penn Manufacturing Apprenticeship Network’s apprenticeship program early adopters.
“Industrial Sales and Manufacturing got involved in the apprenticeship program to increase awareness of manufacturing jobs in Erie county,” said Jim Rutkowski, general manager and treasurer of Industrial Sales & Manufacturing. “Due to the upcoming retiring pool we need to strengthen how manufacturing is portrayed in Erie County, how students learn about manufacturing, and begin creating the next generation workforce.”
ISM was one of 16 employers to join the Greater Oh-Penn Manufacturing Apprenticeship Network program in year one.
“An employee is not just someone that comes in and punches a clock; an employee is someone who participates in the company’s success and growth,” said Mat Pundt, director of Central Tech Erie. “Through the apprenticeship program we are training employees to be critical thinkers.”
ISM’s first apprentice has just begun the apprenticeship program, but will be a master machinist at the end of his apprenticeship.
“The most important part of this all is that we want to give back,” said Rutkowski. “This apprentice program solidifies how we train people for that next generation job.”
The Greater Oh-Penn Manufacturing Apprenticeship Network was formed in 2015 and spans across 14 counties. These counties include Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Portage, Geauga and Ashtabula in Ohio, as well as Mercer, Lawrence, Erie, Crawford, Venango, Clarion, Warren and Forest in Pennsylvania. This region has 2,833 manufacturing openings annually. In addition, 6,686 adults over age 55 will retire from the industry within the next 10 years. Manufacturing employees are needed across these 14 counties. The U.S. Department of Labor recognized this need and awarded the Network a $3 million grant focused on building local manufacturing apprenticeship programs.