MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS — It's national apprenticeship week, and Ohio Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted visited Polaris Career Center in Middleburg Heights to see how they're helping students like Darius Sykes and Kaidence Pozniak learn while they earn to help grow the economy.
“It's an amazing opportunity,” said apprentice Sykes.
Polaris graduates about 80 teen and adult learners a year into skilled trades like CNC machining.
“I am actually the first girl to get the apprenticeship,” said apprentice Pozniak.
Solutions can't come fast enough. The skilled trades, like so many industries, are facing a worker shortage.
Husted said this type of program is both a solution to worker shortage and a valuable tool in the chest.
“It's both, it is a solution if we get enough people to take advantage of it,” he said.
Apprentice Ohio, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, said more than 19,000 registered apprentices are working in the Buckeye State in almost 200 different occupations.
Ohio ranks first in the Midwest for the number of apprentices and third in the nation.
Husted said awareness is key.
“We are creating jobs in Ohio faster than we can fill them. Most of the new jobs require some kind of technical expertise, and apprenticeships are vital components in building the workforce for today and tomorrow and it's an earning and learning pathway for people."
Pozniak and Sykes are both 17 years old and seniors in high school. This two-year apprenticeship program is costing them nothing. They're actually earning $15 an hour working 13 hours a week at Swagelok, who when they graduate next year, they'll work for full time making $20 an hour and up.
“We also have to help adults that are already out there part of the workforce, maybe who's skills are a bit stale or not evolved enough and help them enter these training programs, get upskilled and be ready for the jobs of the future. And I want to emphasize this, we're not taking about years—you can finish industry credentials courses in weeks," Husted said.
Pozniak and Sykes are creating a better future for themselves and our region.
“I want to be an engineer. I would like to be one of the people who actually create the code and sets that code up into the CNC machines,” Pozniak said.
Apprentices like those two students are putting Ohio back on the road to recovery.
“We're seeing the global supply chain move back to the Midwest. Ohio is winning a disproportionate share of those opportunities. Over the next ten years we have the opportunity to grow businesses and jobs in this state, better than anytime in my lifetime, but the key to whether we can secure that and grow that is the workforce,” Husted said.
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