Hiring Shortage: Dozens of Summit County companies fight for small talent pool of skilled workers

Currently 15,000 open positions in Summit County
Posted at 6:00 AM, May 21, 2021

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio — Picking and packing, shipping and receiving.

The work at the Fastenal distribution center in Akron runs like a well-oiled machine.

The company sells construction and industrial supplies — anything from fasteners, nuts, bolts, and screws to ladders.

Like so many other warehouses in Summit County and across Northeast Ohio, Fastenal is looking to hire.

Right now, more than 40 part-time positions are available with a $500 sign-on bonus.

No experience is necessary, with pay starting from $15 to $17 dollars an hour — and a wide variety of shifts to choose from.

“Here at Fastenal, we promote from within so you might start part-time but we’re always looking for the next leaders and supervisors within our facility to help lead those part-time employees,” said Molly Phelps, distribution center manager.

Assistant manager Michelle Carr’s been there for three years.

The flexibility drew her in — the people keep her there.

“It’s like a family, everyone does what they can to help everyone out,”

Over in Barberton — BWXT has been around for 115 years.

They manufacture nuclear reactors for United States Navy subs and aircraft carriers.

The company kept their 900 workers employed during the pandemic, and now, they need to add about 50 more positions.

“And we’re still growing,” said Farrah Corbett, hiring manager at BWXT. “We are in the third year of a three-year expansion initiative and that growth is resulting in additional employees and manufacturing equipment.”

They’re looking for highly skilled positions with pay starting at or above $30 an hour — plus perks like full benefits, tuition reimbursement, retirement funding, and continuous on the job training.

“We’re looking for folks like welders, CNC machinists, dimensional inspectors, and mill wrights right now,” Corbett said.

Howmet Aerospace in Barberton is also hanging out the “now hiring” signs — 30 full time positions, from entry-level to skilled techs and degreed engineers, hourly to salaried.

They start at $16.50 an hour and go up to $40 an hour depending on position and experience.

Kyoto Cooling in Norton — looking for 50 full time workers.

And hiring managers say the struggle to fill all these positions isn’t because people don’t want to work.

Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro said the skilled workers needed for these jobs in many cases, just don’t exist and the talent pool is small.

“The pipeline for that is being built and so they’re competing for what is out there,” Shapiro said. “Everybody needs to do their part in this — government, the private sector and the individual.”

Which is why, she adds, companies need to offer competitive wages.

And why the county is helping link people up with jobs and training as much as they can through a wide variety of available programs.

“They think perhaps because government is helping that that’s some kind of handout and it's not. It’s not. It is there to help people,” Shapiro said.

The bottom line is — jobseekers can afford to be choosy right now because there are so many opportunities out there, you can work to find the right fit, pay, and benefits for you.

But if you’re struggling or you need help with training or your resume — Shapiro said there is money available for that.

You can contact the County Executive’s office to be connected to the correct resource.