CLEVELAND — Over the last five years MAGNET, the Northeast Ohio Manufacturing Extension Program has helped to create or retain 5,000 manufacturing jobs in Northeast Ohio. The need for workers has been around for years but during the pandemic?
"The problem got worse,” said Ethan Karp, CEO of MAGNET. "Whereas before maybe you don't want to go into manufacturing because you have some stigma about it's dark or dirty or dangerous which it's not but that used to be the problem now it's that plus there aren't enough people for any jobs let alone manufacturing jobs."
They were the odds that drew Ouday Taweel to MAGNET, which he learned about at a job fair. The Cleveland State Junior liked the ability to learn a little bit about a lot of things.
"Working here it's like some days of machining, some days I'm doing computer work, some days we're like putting together machines like it varies and I feel like its an advantage compared to working at other companies,” Taweel said.
If the demand for Ouday's talents are high now, they're about to get higher. The trillion dollar infrastructure bill and the likely requirement that all project products used are manufactured in America will place greater demands on places like MAGNET.
That's what drew U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh to Cleveland to see firsthand.
"To see the innovation that MAGNET has put together the longevity of the program that community partners, public private partner relationship, having a relationship with the local government, the state, the Federal government,” Walsh said. “That's key and how do we replicate something like this in other parts of the country is why it's important for me to see it firsthand."
And that scaling up of what is done here needs to be a key component of what Washington ultimately comes up with said Karl.
"A lot of that money needs to be going to build the infrastructure that supports getting people into these career pathways."
Training at a place like MAGNET or at a place like Lorain County Community College where they believe a key is reaching adults who are underemployed and teenagers.
"Students who are coming directly out of high school and those in high school for those what we used to say jobs of the future or careers of the future because they're here now,” Lorain County Community College President Marcia Ballinger.
Jobs that Senator Sherrod Brown said build a bridge to a better future for many through work.
"Infrastructure is way more than water and sewer and broadband and highways and roads. Infrastructure is to provide families an opportunity to prosper."