LISBON, Ohio – Letting Columbiana County students see the inside of eight local industrial plants, organizers of the Manufacturing Your Future event Oct. 27 provided a glimpse of the many career paths at companies eager to hire them in the future.
About 90 sophomores from nine high schools across Columbiana County got to walk the concrete floors at plants, among them Ventra, Hickey Metal Fabrication, Compco, CTM Labeling Systems, TruCut Inc. and Humtown Products.
The students were immersed in the sights and sounds as manufacturing unfolded around them, and watched as industrial cranes lifted and moved a 150,000-pound piece of metal or as workers used technology to create precision parts.
Students saw both large and small products created by a variety of manufacturing processes.
“It’s always good when you can expose students to things they’ve never seen or might not be aware of,” said Jeremy Corbisello, assistant superintendent at the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center.
Manufacturing Your Future, hosted by U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, was organized by the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center and its Business Advisory Council to provide students with a picture of manufacturing careers and the training programs that could help them qualify for entry-level jobs.
“Manufacturing needs young people,” said Matt Joing, vice president of operations at Butech Bliss, as he led a tour of the plant. “We’ve got plenty of work coming. We’ve got plenty to do. We need more young people to get into the mix.”
Joing reminded the students about the composition of the workforce they saw at the Salem plant, which specializes in manufacturing equipment for processing steel and metals. As these employees age and retire, there will be even more openings for new employees, people who like to think and problem solve, while not performing the same tasks day after day.
“We do not have enough young people like you coming into the machining trades,” Joing said.
Johnson explained to students his career path, including how he ended up in the U.S. Air Force, which helped him secure his college education, but also ended up in the manufacturing field before politics. His 46-year-old son, who went to college, ended up not liking working in the business field and is now working with his hands installing fiber optic lines across the country.
The congressman reminded students that there are nearly 11 million unfilled jobs across the country, including many in Columbiana County.
He joined a group of students touring MAC Trailer Manufacturing where Dave Russell, safety director, showed the process of building some of the company’s flatbed and tank trailers – starting from pieces of aluminum through to the inspections of the end products. The students watched as equipment and technology aided the employees throughout various stages.
MAC Trailer employs about 180 at the Salem plant in a variety of jobs that include engineering, assemblers, welders, warehouse, sales, marketing, human resources and management. Welders can start at $20 per hour and make more depending on training and experience. Employees later can expand their knowledge and move up to the level of master trailer builder.
Russell explained that MAC Trailer teams up with local career centers and training programs so students can go to school and start gaining experience through work programs. There are bonuses for perfect attendance, employee incentives, recognition and appreciation events, as well as other benefits.
“I think we have a lot of potential interest in the manufacturing field,” said Russell after the tour. “Once they see the true meaning of what manufacturing means for this community, it will change a lot of their perspectives for their futures.”
Mike Weir, a career counselor in Lisbon Schools, joined some of the tours. He said the event let students know there are options for their futures outside of traditional college.
“It’s about giving students a bird’s-eye view,” said Weir.
When students returned from the tours, some said they were unaware about the number of robots at Ventra or that CCCTC has robots in the precision machining program, said Corbisello. Another student said he had never considered welding but now he is interested in pursuing welding at CCCTC.
Corbisello said some students, even those who have a family member in manufacturing, may not know the size and scope of what happens at local manufacturers.
“It’s about awareness with students. Because if they just stay in the walls of their high school, they don’t know what’s out there,” he said.
Pictured at top: Matt Joing, vice president of operations at Butech Bliss, gives a tour to a group of students during the Manufacturing Your Future event sponsored by the Columbiana County Career & Technical Center.