Medina County Workforce Development Director Bill Hanigan said one local company recently had 30 applicants for an open position. The company interviewed nine and hired three, but only one employee remained after a few months.
“That’s a lot of effort when you look at the time and energy to go through just to find one employee,” Hanigan said.
The new Manufacturing Training Consortium aims to link trained workers with local manufacturers, making the firms’ hiring process and the workers’ job hunts easier. It also will provide educational opportunities for workers who don’t quite have the skills needed for jobs at the companies.
“We will have workers that meet certain skill-set standards that most other states can’t brag about,” Hanigan said. He and others plan to roll out the program over the next several months.
The Manufacturer Training Consortium stemmed from the city of Medina’s strategic plan for economic development. Tom Krueger, the city’s economic development director, said he wanted to see a program that trained workers and linked them with local employers.
“If we have good workers in Medina and there’s not a career path for them, … they’re going to go to Cuyahoga County and Summit. The community’s going to lose them,” he said.
The Medina County University Center, Medina County Career Center and Medina County Workforce Development joined Krueger to look at training issues. They assembled a group of 25 manufacturers from throughout the county and surveyed them on what skills they want to see in workers.
Hanigan explained the consortium hopes to pinpoint certain skills that entry-level workers at manufacturers may need.
“In many cases, what you’ll find … is you’ll have a core set of skills that 95 percent or so of all manufacturers have the same core that they need,” he said.
They will devise an assessment tool for workers. Hanigan said it will show whether workers have the “soft skills” needed for the local manufacturing field. This includes team-working abilities, some basic academic knowledge such as math and problem solving, and personality aspects like reliability and integrity.
“The key here is developing a mechanism that manufacturers will be able to rely on to provide them consistency,” he said.
If the assessment receives approval from the local manufacturers, it will be used for current workers and those searching for jobs.
Any prospective employees that meet all the requirements will be assigned to the “applicant pool.” These are workers that have the skills necessary for entry-level positions.
Projections show that participating manufacturers plan to have at least 200 entry-level, operator and clerical positions in the next year. These employers can look to the applicant pool when they begin to fill these positions, Hanigan explained.
And that pool will only grow, he said, since the initiative includes training. The University Center and the Career Center will develop a set of classes that will address all the manufacturing skills.
“It’s going to be multiple programs. Based on their assessment results, different individuals would have different training,” said Jim Boyes, director of the University Center who has helped develop the program.
Once the workers pass the assessment, they’ll receive a certification that Hanigan hopes will be recognized by local employers. He said more courses and skills can be added to the program as time goes on.
“This is only what I would consider phase one of an overall program that eventually will include higher skill sets where people can eventually receive training for higher up in the company,” he said, noting the courses also could count toward college credit.
Hanigan said he hopes at least the first phase of this program won’t cost anything to the manufacturers or applicants. They’ve already received a state grant to cover a part of the costs to develop the program and hope to receive an additional one soon to pick up the rest.
Once the program’s up and running, Hanigan said he hopes to use the job training dollars his office receives from the government every year to keep the program going.
“At the end of the day, this has to be a self-sustaining program, and the way we’re putting it together I hope it to be so,” he said.
Officials are still looking for local companies to be part of the Manufacturing Training Consortium. Those interested in joining should called Boyes at the University Center, (330) 721-2210, or Hanigan at Workforce Development, (330) 723-9675.
Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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