YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel visited Youngstown on Friday to present two people with the Valley’s first “Ohio Strong” awards.
Steve Zimmer and Candy Davis were both recognized for their years of dedication and service at Taylor Winfield Technologies.
“Today, we are recognizing people who have spent multiple years here and who, according to the folks running the operation, go above and beyond, who are excellent in what they do, who are setting the example by exemplifying the type of attention to detail and hard work that we need in manufacturing, but also specifically in the skilled trades,” Mandel said.
Mandel said the Ohio Strong initiative is aimed at recognizing local workers in manufacturing and the skilled trades. He said he hopes the initiative inspires the younger generation to pursue careers in the trades.
“One of the problems we have here in Ohio is that a lot of high schools have eliminated shop class and in my mind, there’s not enough investment into vocational schools and the two-year technical schools. If we’re going to be strong as a state and the Valley is going to continue to be strong economically, we have to make those, we have to be a manufacture-based society and economy,” Mandel said.
The people who are training workers for the manufacturing industry and skilled trades said it’s becoming a more popular career path, especially since the oil and gas industry is booming.
Roan Craig, superintendent of the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, said the skilled trades is where the jobs are. Craig said that only 20 percent of all careers are going to require a four-year specialized degree, but 60 percent of all careers involve specialized training, and that’s why more people are taking that job route.
“I think that increased interest is developing, especially in the manufacturing field, where there has been a lot of immediate attention and we have done a lot of work with manufacturers in order to bring attention to the field,” Craig said.
She said the school has a 94 percent placement rate, which includes students either furthering their education or actually working in the skilled trades.
Craig said enrollment at MCCTC has been steady over the past five years, as increased interest is developing in manufacturing, partly because of the oil and gas industry. And it’s not just at the school. Local unions also are seeing more people signing up.
“We are seeing a nice demand both within our Local 396 as well as in the building trades, the Western Reserve Building Trades, all the crafts have apprenticeship programs and because of the oil and gas industry and manufacturing upgrades, we’re getting a nice group of young people wanting to come into the programs,” said Butch Taylor, business manager for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396.
Taylor said they’re seeing a shortage of pipe welders and that’s where there is a lot of demand.
He also said it’s just not young people entering the skilled trades. Taylor said displaced workers also are becoming more interested in those careers.