On Feb. 21, The Cornell Club of Northeastern Ohio sponsored a gathering at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network) to learn about “Manufacturing and the Future of Work in Northeast Ohio.” The event was attended by Cornell alumni, as well as interested parties from area educators and businesses.
MAGNET’s Linda Barita, director of strategic alliances, led the discussion and was joined by Mike O’Donnell, VP of operations, and Dave Pierson, lead engineer and head of additive and 3D printing.
Highlights of the discussion revolved around data from the 2017 NEO Manufacturing Survey conducted by MAGNET and its partners, The Corporate University and Kent State University at Stark.
The survey showed that manufacturers are concerned about three main issues: rising costs of healthcare, attracting and retaining qualified workers, and government policies and regulations.
The focus of the discussion revolved around attracting a skilled workforce, with a focus on students in high school. Although traditional high school internships have been for juniors or seniors, Pierson says he now is recruiting freshman so that he can offer them training for four years prior to graduation. He states that the interns are well prepared to join the workforce after four years of training and adapt easily to their new jobs.
The question remains around training for adults whose jobs vanished during the 2008 recession. In an article The Plain Dealer, Olivera Perkins reports, “Six of the 10 occupations losing the most jobs were moderate or higher-paying. They included executive secretaries and administrative assistants; business operation specialists, including brokers; and most secondary-school teaching positions.” She continues by stating that “the two fastest-growing occupations were lower-paying: food preparation and serving workers, with a median hourly pay of $8.71, and home health aides, at $9.18 an hour.” (Perkins, 1) This problem has increased the number of “working poor” in our community.
How can we, as a community, offer adults in the community who have found themselves on the sidelines of the job market with the opportunity to learn the skills needed in today’s manufacturing environment? It will take partnerships between the manufacturing industry, educators, government, and those, like myself, who work in the field of Industrial and labor relations, to create employment opportunities that will afford an employee with the opportunity to earn enough money to support him or herself.
Perkins, Olivera. (2012, Sept. 3). “Jobs with mid-range pay are disappearing from the Cleveland area labor market.” Retrieved