A coalition of Miami Valley community colleges and industry groups is launching a new program that aims to close the manufacturing skills gap.
With help from a federal Department of Labor grant announced Wednesday, Clark State Community College, Sinclair Community College and the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association will work together to train 365 skilled workers over the next four years, and match them with Miami Valley manufacturing employers.
Don Clouser with the trade association says apprenticeships are often critical to connecting students with highly paid jobs in fields such as electrical and industrial maintenance, and welding.
"We work with a lot of schools -- middle schools, high schools, career technology centers -- to help educate students, as well as their parents, to see the potential they could have in a manufacturing career," he says.
Many Dayton manufacturing companies have long complained about the difficulties they face in attracting enough qualified employees to fill available jobs.
Nationally, more than 2 million manufacturing jobs are projected to go unfilled across the country over the next decade.
Clouser says many people still think of manufacturing as unskilled labor prone to layoffs, but many jobs now pay well, involve robotics, and required certified skills.
There are lots of job openings in the field.
Anthony Ponder of Sinclair Community College says the goal is to put workers into higher-paying positions with better job security.
“When we underwent the Great Recession, the individuals that lost their jobs were primarily those in low-skilled positions who did not have some type of credential,” Ponder says. “So, it’s critically important now for anyone to get in the mindset of continuous education.”
Representatives of the colleges say this grant will help create two new programs and expand on five existing programs. And the DRMA says it will work with 150 employers to transition apprentices into full-time work in the manufacturing sector, which has an annual payroll of $40 billion in Ohio.
This story is part of WYSO's Scratch series on business, innovation and the economy in the Miami Valley.