YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – More than 40% of workers at Hynes Industries have received additional training through the state’s TechCred program, up-skilling the company’s workforce and saving it money in the process. And the Youngstown-based manufacturer of custom metal products is ready to apply for more in the next round of funding.
“It has enabled us to bring on people in a challenging environment,” said Rick Organ, president and CEO of Hynes. “But more importantly as well, to enhance the skills of the people that we have.”
Indeed, that is the goal of TechCred, which reimburses employers up to $2,000 in training costs for each credential successfully gained by an employee, said Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.
Husted joined Organ for a roundtable with workforce development stakeholders April 18 and to see how Hynes implemented the state funding.
To date, 76 new or existing workers at Hynes have gained credentials on the strength of the TechCred program.
“And I’ll put in a plug for our next TechCred grant, because we’ve got another one coming,” Organ quipped.
Among the workers at Hynes to benefit from TechCred are Jay Zerbs and Brian Reda.
Because of TechCred, Hynes was able to provide a class that gave Zerbs good pointers on setting up the mill equipment, “so I didn’t struggle as much learning the setup position,” Zerbs said.
Setup is one of the key positions within Hynes, Organ explained. Workers who perform setup are skilled individuals, or “engineers without the engineering education,” he said.
Reda took the class as well and said it gave him the encouragement and drive to move into a setup role when the opportunity arises.
“When [there’s an] opportunity for me to get into setup, I’m definitely going to take it because of this training,” he said.
Organ commented on the ease of the grant application process, as well as the coordination with training providers to get its workers the training they need. The CEO praised the efforts of the state and Husted, along with the stakeholders for promoting and implementing programs such as TechCred, as well as Ohio to Work and WorkAdvance.
“We have benefited from all of those,” Organ said. “The programs that you’ve worked so hard to advance within this community at the state level, and now at the local level, are working.”
Since launching TechCred in October 2019, the program has exceeded expectations, Husted said.
The Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation initially set a goal of having 10,000 people take advantage of it in the first year, and another 20,000 in the second year.
“We’re already up to 40,000,” Husted said. “The demand is there. I love it, because it’s one of these things where everybody wins.”
Through TechCred and its sister program, Individual Microcredential Assistance Program, employees earn credentials, which increases their skills, earning power and job security. Employers win because having better trained employees improves productivity, allowing companies to better serve their customers.
“Ohio wins because we have people who have more earning potential and businesses who have a more talented workforce,” Husted said.
In addition to up-skilling workers, TechCred has opened the door for more apprenticeship programs at local manufacturers.
That was an “innovative, creative solution to help companies tap into the funding,” said Jessica Borza, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition.
“We kind of helped chunk it so that they can apply for different components of the apprenticeship as they go through,” Borza said. “That’s been something that they’ve taken advantage of in a number of our other local companies.”
While course offerings were interrupted because of the pandemic, MVMC is seeing apprenticeship participation picking back up and classes are being filled, Borza said.
Educators are also adding capacity in needed areas, such as industrial maintenance, which is offered through the Trumbull Career and Technical Center, as well as Eastern Gateway Community College.
More companies are interested in the apprenticeships than are applying for the program, Borza said.
The MVMC works to line up the instructor and work with the school to ensure all the pieces are in place and that they have enough people to fill a class.
“We know there’s enough in the pipeline to do additional classes, and that’s what we’re working on right now,” Borza said.
“We’re in that ongoing sustainability phase and it’s working. We’re seeing that continued interest, and I think even more so as companies are realizing they need to grow their employees into the most skilled positions that are experiencing retirements and so forth. So it’s all coming together,” Borza said.
Hynes has brought on five apprentices, two of which have completed their apprenticeships, said Greg Billock, maintenance supervisor.
“As they progress with completing their classes and passing their classes, and get their on-job training, they move up on pay scale every year as they go,” Billock said.
In early March, the state allocated more than $5 million in TechCred funding for the 12th round of funding – the most ever requested or awarded in a single application period. The funding will provide the opportunity for Ohioans to earn 4,434 tech-focused credentials.
Husted doesn’t expect that funding to lessen anytime soon. “It’s very popular. When something’s popular with both business and employees, that means that the General Assembly is very likely to continue to support it now and even more so in the future,” he said.
Pictured: Greeting Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (center) at Hynes Industries April 18 are Jessica Borza, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, and Rick Organ, president and CEO of Hynes Industries.