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Many Valley workers lack skills for growing manufacturing jobs



Published: Fri, April 13, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.

Many lack skills needed for available jobs

photo

Jay Williams, left, former Youngstown mayor and current executive director of the U.S. Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, makes a point at Thursday’s manufacturing summit in Youngstown. Jim Herrholtz, assistant superintendent for the division of learning for the Ohio Department of Education, listens.

By Burton Speakman

bspeakman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A lack of skilled manufacturing workers could slow the progress the Mahoning Valley is making in economic development.

The Oh-Penn Interstate Regional Manufacturing Workforce Summit at Youngstown State University on Thursday focused on problems facing the local manufacturing base in finding qualified workers. The Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition sponsored the event.

This summit is necessary because all manufacturers in the Valley face the same issue: There are not enough people who have the necessary skills for the modern manufacturing industry, said Brian Benyo, president of Brilex Industries Inc.

“Skilled labor is very hard to come by; it’s the most significant challenge facing our businesses in survival and future growth,” Benyo said.

No company in the Mahoning Valley is big enough to solve the skilled-workforce shortage on its own, he said. Companies have to work together to find solutions. They must also ensure educators and politicians understand the problem.

There is a need for parents and educators to encourage young people to seek jobs in manufacturing, said Coleen Chamberlain, human resources administrator/specialist for Xaloy, Inc.

Because students do not seek careers in manufacturing, employers don’t see the skills they need for available positions.

V&M Star sought 350 employees for its new Youngstown facility and received more than 16,000 applications for those positions, according to Trina Rauscher-Cooper, director of human resources for the company.

In the end its hard to find a 10 percent pool of applicants that is qualified, particularly those with millwright or maintenance skills, she said.

The education systems need to do better to get students either college or career ready, said Jim Herrholtz, associate superintendent for the division of learning for the Ohio Department of Education.

Some efforts are ongoing that could provide help locally.

Some $2 billion in grants are available through 2014 from the federal government for community colleges and certification programs to aid with programs that provide training that is relevant to today’s workforce, said Jay Williams, executive director of the U.S. Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers and a former Youngstown mayor.

Oil and gas companies may actually be a threat to the future of the local manufacturing base, Benyo said. Those companies can pay higher wages and fight for the same pool of workers with skills in welding, machine-tool assessment and maintenance.

There is a lot of diversity within the local manufacturing base, but there is a risk of losing that diversity without qualified workers, he said.

Pennsylvania has a program to develop qualified workers that is a partnership between businesses and the state, said Dan Kuba, director of the bureau of workforce development partnership for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

“All too often, workforce development doesn’t take a proactive approach,” he said. “When challenges arise it is up to the business community to come up with answers.”

Pennsylvania started working eight years ago to take feedback from businesses to create priorities for workforce development and then placed its funding behind those priorities, Kuba said.

Local offices were able to focus on which priorities applied to them, he added.

There are opportunities available now in the Mahoning Valley that haven’t been available since the days of the steel industry, said Amy Weller, director of community and employee development for Ellwood Crankshaft Group.

Everyone needs to work together so the area can take advantage of those opportunities, she added.


Comments

11loaf(100 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

It is not just a lack of skilled workers that is hurting the Mahoning Valley. It is also the lack of people who WANT to work for a living. As more government handouts become available more folks stay home and wait for the next check!

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2lovethebuckeyes(32 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

We hire with 2 requirements. A high school education and a passed drug test. You would be amazed at how restrictive that is in hiring. I would estimate that approx. 80% of our "off-the-street applicants fail at least one of these. Many fail both. We have all these esoteric training programs and over half the kids in Youngstown and Warren don't even bother to finish high school. If you don’t care enough about yourself to finish at least high school, then why would I hire you? And that doesn't even touch the drug issue. Manufacturing can be dangerous. If you aren't sober, you are a menace to yourself and others.

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3VINDYAK(1799 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

Finding a good worker in The Valley is so difficult today. With background checks and drug tests it is nearly impossible to find qualified people.

Then, when you do find one they are a poor performer, or worse yet, do not show up for work. The really good employees only last about a year, until they find another job with slightly better pay or hours.

There is no loyalty today, either by employer or employees, so we are stuck in a vicious circle of distrust, which undermines our ability to produce efficiently.

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4CongressWatcher(167 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

Wait a minute. I remember our congressman Ryan and others saying the reason that V&M came here was because he sold them on the strong work ethic and strong work force here in the valley.

Do you mean they may have just come here because of the oil and natural gas? What would that say about how much the politicians actually contributed to the process of V&M expanding here?

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5busyman(239 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

For the past 20 years the dumbed down young workers who lost their unskilled factory jobs were waiting to get more unskilled factory jobs with GM working the line. It is tough work, but it is not skilled labor. The are also waiting for the steelmills to come back. Now that one did they were surprised that no is no one shoveling coal anymore. They can not pass a drug test, when they know they are going to take one for a job. Do not blame it on the schools. You can blame it on some of the unskilled parents. Monkey see, monkey do. When people are moving here ,that are on the governments dole, because it is cheap to buy a house in the city and cheap to live here, I do not think we are getting the hard working skilled worker.

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6USMC0331(150 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

If you want a job bad enough take your happy ass to new castle school of trades!! Or maybe these companies should offer a training program? Its not a lost cause for god sake! If you did on the job training at least the person you train would be doing the job the way you want it done.

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7DontBanThisDrone(469 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

The Department of Education has a separate division called The Division of Learning. It has a Superintendent who, although I can't imagine exactly why, cannot handle the duties him/herself, and thus they also have an Assistant Superintendent. It doesn't state how many other positions exist withing the 'Division of Learning' division of the Department of Education.

I'm picturing the GM assembly plant in Lordstown having a separate division, with it's own complete staff, called the 'Division of Car Assembly', staffed by Car Assemblers and Assistant Car Assemblers, and in all likelihood, Deputy Car Assemblers.

(-:

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8sharonite(2 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

I have the math and mechanical skills that employers need. I was overlooked for a Field Technician position because I cannot move 80 pounds in the field ~ I'm interested, determined, and a hard worker, but physics tells me that this 120 pound woman WILL have a difficult time handling 80 pounds on a regular basis.

I'm interested in polishing, machining, or welding, but I'm not interested in paying for the training. I'm not unmotivated because I recently graduated from college with an education degree in science. I can, and would LOVE to do the job. Give me a chance and don't overlook me.

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9UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

Welcom to Youngstown, home of the entitled. From the SSI and Welfare receipiants to the entitled politicians, we are all one happy family.

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10Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

And all the Ytown class hate is in full bloom for spring.

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11peggygurney(397 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

And because of all the mentioned above, these companies will advertise for, and hire, people from outside of Youngstown, even Mahoning County, thus taking the jobs that COULD have, and should have, been taken by Youngstown/area residents... had they wanted them.

Sad.

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12coolnumbers(63 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

1) V&M came here because we gave away the farm and the Texas area we were up against did not

2) Sharonite: if you have the skills you will find work. I will find a link you can use

3) It is almost impossible to find good help in this area from a large pecentage of those unemployed. I have to recruit those who have jobs and pay through the nose to get them

4) Those with good jobs have the leverage

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