YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – More than 100 local business leaders came to Youngstown State University’s Kilcawley Center Tuesday morning with the goal of communicating what they need to do to improve the manufacturing sector in the Mahoning Valley.
They took part in the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s Northeastern OH/Western PA, Manufacturing Career Pathways Summit, sponsored by Hapco, Inc. and the Oh-Penn Manufacturing Collaborative. The summit, which included speakers, break-out sessions with manufacturers and educational exhibits, sought to bridge the gap between employers and job seekers in the manufacturing industry.
Manufacturing employs nearly 40,000 workers in the Oh-Penn region and is the third largest industry behind health care/social assistance and retail trade, according to the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition. But, the coalition said these industries are having difficulty filling the vacant positions.
This month, the U.S. Department of Labor gave Oh-Penn a $3 million grant to help manufacturers find skilled employees in the area to fill jobs. The organization’s goal is to place 300 apprentices in the next five years.
Jessica Borza, sector partnership coordinator for the Oh-Penn Manufacturing Collaborative, said recruiting students into the manufacturing industry is a major goal as well.
“Getting out into the schools and reaching out to young people to educate them about manufacturing career pathways,” she said. “We’re working with the education and training providers to make sure that they know what the skill needs are and are able to adjust their curriculum.”
Oh-Penn will take some of the feedback it received from industry leaders on Tuesday and use it to shape what the organization does in the future.