CLEVELAND — Ohio’s focus on training the next generation of manufacturers is being recognized by the White House. The Ohio Manufacturers Association (OMA) is receiving one of the largest awards from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s "Good Jobs Challenge" program. The OMA will see $23.5 million over the next three years.
The administration sought to find organizations that had programs in place to recruit and train a workforce for the good jobs that are open and out there.
“By providing Ohioans with opportunities to upskill or be trained in cutting-edge careers, we will grow Ohio’s workforce, especially in the manufacturing, broadband, and electric vehicle sectors,” Governor Mike DeWine said in a statement. “We want to continue to help provide Ohio employers with qualified workers in order to grow their businesses, and this grant will help us do just that.”
The Good Jobs Challenge seeks not only to prepare people for and place them into jobs in manufacturing, but seeks to target areas of the workforce where workers may never have even considered manufacturing as a career.
The program is doing outreach with "women, with people of color, with veterans, with formerly incarcerated individuals,” said Sara Tracey of the Ohio Manufacturing Association. “Making sure that we are really expanding the diversity and equity of the manufacturing industry by bringing in people from our communities who aren't well represented in the industry today."
It's a learn and earn model; learn a skill then fill a job that can lead to a career. And there are jobs to fill, said Ethan Karp, President and CEO of the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, better known as MAGNET.
"Just in the surrounding areas of Cleveland — 3,000 open manufacturing jobs,” Karp said. "We're going to be going into communities, we're going to be asking community groups how can we be introduced to people that might never have considered this as a career."
They hope not only to show them but soon show them in a way they haven't been able to before, because the additional money comes as they get set to move into a brand new massive campus this fall at E. 63rd and Chester.
"The new facility that we have is actually a centerpiece of a lot of this work,” Karp said. “It's going to be a place where people can come and touch and feel in the Hough neighborhood, in Midtown area, for the entire city, what manufacturing is all about."
The goal is to not only provide the training but also the wrap-around services that often serve as obstacles.
“We can easily slot them in and say, 'What support do you need? Oh, you have a criminal background, okay let's work with you on that, let's figure out which manufacturers are really supportive of that,'" Karp said. "'Oh, you need childcare, how are we going to think — oh, you need transportation, how are we going to figure that out? Oh, you need a little training let's figure that out.' We're going to hand hold you through that process so that you can get a great job in manufacturing.”