By Kalea Hall
After Mont Mechling got out of the military, he worked 12 years at temporary manufacturing jobs.
When it came down to being hired by a company, Mechling, 43, of Hubbard, was always either under- or overqualified.
Then he found out about the Manufacturing Readiness Program and thought it would help him land a solid job.
He was right.
“Anyone who enters the program and successfully completes it will have a good entry-level job,” Mechling said.
Mechling is one of more than 30 graduates who have gone through the manufacturing readiness program, which started in 2014.
“It stemmed out of a skills-gap analysis,” said Jessica Borza, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition.
The MVMC, a local initiative with manufacturers and schools working together to grow the workforce and address workforce issues, was working on a career path with manufacturers and schools and found a gap at the entry-level part of that path.
The coalition decided to do something about it after it received a grant to help them. It partnered with local career and technical centers. Compass Family and Community Services also is working with the coalition to provide career coaching and support.
The free program gives students what they need to be successful in manufacturing.
With the program, students are able to earn up to seven different manufacturing credentials to set them apart from others.
“As a result of this program, they were better able to put into words how to make them more marketable to employers,” Borza said.
Students in the seven-week class first learn soft skills, so they can work together, and then they move on to technical skills.
“I loved it,” Mechling said. “We learned everything from safety to equipment. It showed me how technically advanced manufacturing is becoming.”
Students also learn interview skills, resume skills and are guaranteed an interview with a local manufacturer when they complete the program.
“The idea of the program excites me about what opportunities it could give people,” Mechling said.
Mechling now works for Pennex Aluminum Co. in Leetonia.
Pennex likes the enthusiasm the Manufacturing Readiness graduates have for working. The company has hired two graduates.
“They not only want to work, but they want work in manufacturing,” said Jera Daye, who works in human resources services at Pennex. “They have turned out to be excellent. I would absolutely recommend [companies] to interview and hire these graduates.”
Recruiting for the next manufacturing readiness classes is underway. Classes at Trumbull Career and Technical Center start April 4, and classes at Columbiana Career and Technical Center start May 2.