YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Manufacturing is a big part of both the country’s history and the Valley’s history. The cars driven and the roads driven on are all thanks to the skilled labor industry.
Baby boomers in industry jobs are going to retire soon. Training the next generation of welders, electricians, carpenters and other labor skills is important.
The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services did an industry employment projection for the Valley. The projection shows a six percent drop in manufacturing jobs by 2022.
Unions are highlighting the opportunities to young men and women and showing how the industry is always changing.
“We’re constantly training, updating our skills, qualifications, certifications that our members have. It’s not just a five-year apprenticeship program, but it’s learning throughout the lifetime of your trade,” said Tim Callon of UA Local 396 Plumbers and Pipefitters.
The union has seen steady interest in its apprenticeship programs, 100 people applied in the last round.
“Many times people don’t notice what would be behind the walls in a hospital room. But the life saving gases, medical gases that are used, are done by plumbers and pipefitters,” Callion said.
Focusing on new technology is one way trades and schools are trying to attract younger workers.
“When they walk into a shop, it’s clean, it’s organized, it’s advanced technology. There’s even more robotics coming into play, and that’s the future,” said Mary Mihalopoulos, career transition supervisor at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.
A STEM education, that’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is a big part of skilled trades. MCCTC is offering a free training program to help meet industry demands.
The seven week manufacturing readiness program is part of the adult career center. At the end of the program, participants will earn a number of credentials they need for the industry.
There are only 15 spots available for the training program, which is valued around $3,000 and scheduled to begin May 16. You can apply now for that program. .
MCCTC students like senior Brandon Suibert feel at home in a shop.
“It’s all hands on.You got to measure stuff out, do stuff yourself. You don’t have anybody else doing it for you,” Suibert said.
The high school senior plans on making welding a career. He’s going to study business in college so he can open his own shop.
He also said a welding background is going to open doors for him, and is a skill he can always fall back on.
“You get a pension, you get social security, and this day and age there’s not many places that offer those things anymore for at least kids our age,” Suibert said.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said registration for the manufacturing readiness program is scheduled to begin May 16. The program begins May 16, and registration is ongoing now. WKBN regrets the error.