By Jessica Borza
Executive Director, MVMC
YOUNGSTOWN – The Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition stormed out of the gate in 2021 with positive news from two significant grants. These new sources of funding will enable the workforce development sector partnership to execute plans to promote manufacturing careers and train the workforce of tomorrow.
General Motors is the source of $1.5 million in funding to be allocated among MVMC, America Makes and Brite Energy Innovators. Those funds will be used to create professional development opportunities for career counselors, teachers and advisers throughout the Mahoning Valley. This will help young people and career-switchers make informed decisions about their career pathways.
The Ohio governor’s office awarded MVMC $250,000 from its Industry Sector Partnership grant, the maximum amount awarded.
It’s both exciting and gratifying to represent an organization these entities view as worth investing in. The collective work our member manufacturers and partners do is being noticed and is making a difference in our community.
We’ll work closely with our members and partners to help shape the solutions and strategies these grants make possible. Much of that effort will include enhancing virtual tools and programming to aid outreach and training initiatives – needs made even more apparent in the pandemic.
Social distancing requirements led to some disruptions early on in terms of classroom and hands-on training in manufacturing plants and in partner education centers. Through collaboration and creative planning, those issues were minimized.
Many area manufacturers continued to thrive and many needed to hire qualified workers. MVMC’s WorkAdvance initiative, in turn, saw increased demand.
WorkAdvance is aimed at generating new pools of candidates for
manufacturing jobs from among underemployed or disadvantaged job seekers.
The model recruits and pays for initial training for individuals looking for career opportunities but who don’t have the experience or basic credentials to qualify for entry-level advanced manufacturing jobs.
Area manufacturers such as Nordson, Extrudex Aluminum and Pennex Aluminum have tapped into WorkAdvance, and several more are lining up opportunities in 2021. Many of our member manufacturers are hiring for rewarding career opportunities with advancement in mind.
Once employed, MVMC plays a role in upskilling workers at member companies to make them even more valuable. It does this through a combination of sponsored training and apprenticeship models, as well as by assisting manufacturers with state programs like TechCred.
In December, MVMC’s machinist registered apprenticeship program was approved for TechCred funding. This allows manufacturers to apply for state funding to reimburse apprentice-related and other training costs.
Through TechCred, Employers can receive $4,000 for apprentices that complete the first year, and up to $10,000 over the course of the training to easily recoup training costs.
Collectively, machinists are among our members’ most in-demand occupations. Our machinist training program was customized to the needs of our employers and results in participants learning the skills to earn industry-recognized credentials.
MVMC has developed similar occupation-based training for industrial maintenance mechanic, welder/fitter and automation/robotics positions.
Membership in the nearly 10 year-old sector partnership has grown to nearly 50 manufacturing and extruding companies in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties.