MVMC Puts Emphasis on Youth Outreach

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Twenty-one new organizations joined the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition in 2023, a testament to the continued reach, growth and impact of the workforce development organization.

Membership now stands at 72 manufacturers in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties representing a range of sectors, including machining and welding, plastic and metal extruders, electric vehicle, food and additive manufacturing. An additional 50-plus affiliate companies and education partners are also members.

Organizations are drawn to MVMC for its industry-led approach to addressing the workforce needs of the local manufacturing industry.

“There’s a significant workforce shortage in both the national and local manufacturing industry. And, it’s evident in entry-level positions as well as in skilled trades,” says Alex Hertzer, MVMC senior project manager. “Our emphasis as an organization is to recruit new talent to the industry and work with employers on training and retention strategies to strengthen their existing workforce.”

MVMC is heavily invested in youth outreach initiatives to open kids’ eyes to career opportunities in manufacturing. The organization secured a $250,000 grant in December from the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, which is earmarked in large part for expanding youth outreach programming and attracting and training new talent to fill advanced manufacturing and electric vehicle positions.

“Many of our members do long-term planning that assesses workforce needs five and 10 years into the future. So that can be young people in middle school and high school now,” says Jessica Borza, MVMC executive director. “The earlier we give them a peek at rewarding career opportunities here at home, the more our members will benefit in the future.”

Other 2023 highlights and plans for 2024 include:

• Completion of year one of the federally funded Good Jobs Challenge initiative. MVMC was among Ohios leading industry sector partnerships in terms of placing WorkAdvance participants, many from targeted untapped talent populations, in careers.

• Expansion of WorkAdvance into Trumbull County, including the completion of an initial cohort of nine participants.

• Launch of a seven-lesson manufacturing-based curriculum for middle school students centering on career exploration. Each lesson includes everything an educator would need to support the learning objectives, including hands-on activities and videos.

• Consulted with a manufacturing workforce collaboration startup across the state border to help form the Lawrence Mercer Manufacturers Coalition.

• Recognized MVMC founder Brian Benyo, co-owner of Brilex Industries, who received the Dan French Legacy Award from The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association for exemplary service and leadership.

• In 2024, MVMC will lead the implementation of the electric vehicle workforce strategy for Northeastern Ohio. MVMC will identify the skills and competency needs of this emerging industry, and enhance workforce and training strategies to address them both for EV and other advanced manufacturing jobs with overlapping training needs.