CMT Celebrates National Skilled Trades Day Wednesday

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Heard of National Take a Walk in the Park Day? Or National Cheese Doodle Day? These whimsical days may not seem important to celebrate but they are listed on the National Day Calendar, which tracks 1,500 national days, weeks and months.

The National Day Calendar has more than 181,000 people who follow its Facebook account and 38,000 Twitter followers. 

NationalDayCalendar.com was among the top 2,500 most-visited websites in the world in 2016, according to SEMrush. Some 20,000 media outlets subscribe to the website’s daily notifications to source story ideas, a number that doesn’t include thousands of people who receive its daily emails out of interest and enjoyment for what there is to celebrate each day.

 Claudia Kovach is one of those people. 

“You always hear it’s National Peanut Butter Day or National Ice Cream Day,” she says. “Every day I would read about a day on National Day Calendar and I thought it was interesting.”

Kovach is vice president of City Machine Technologies in Youngstown, which provides electrical, mechanical, machining and lifting magnet capability services for heavy industrial repairs across the world.

Over the past decade, she noticed a shift in the number of skilled-trades workers entering the field, as more high school students are going to a four-year college once they graduate and don’t know about career paths available in the skilled trades. 

“You don’t have to go to college to have a nice life, to have a good job with a 401(k) plan, health care and benefits,” Kovach says. “In the trades, you’re never going to be outsourced. You’re not going to fly to China to get your haircut for hairdressers and a mechanic isn’t going to fly to India to fix a Honda. We need these workers here.”

So to bring awareness to the skilled trades, in February Kovach decided to reach out to the National Day Calendar and establish National Skilled Trades Day.

“We sent in an application and a couple days later, we were approved,” she says. “There was a need, so they approved it.”

Part of the process for establishing a national day is filling out an application online and having a website to match the day you want to establish. For National Skilled Trades Day, the website is CMTCompanies.com/national-skilled-trades-day.

The National Day Calendar receives 18,000 applications for new national days annually and only around 30 are added to the calendar each year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

National Skilled Trades Day will be celebrated on the first Wednesday of May – this year May 1 – and Kovach hopes it will be a day to celebrate the skilled trades on the national level. She says it’s good timing to spark an interest in those high school seniors who are unsure of what they want to do.

“It’s a nice little refresher to say, ‘Oh maybe we can look into a trade program,’ ” Kovach says. “The trade programs operate differently than colleges because they’re always continuing and having different classes.”

Kovach’s father and president of CMT, Michael Kovach, says the number of skilled-trades workers who are employable has decreased over the years as workers don’t have the skills needed or they can’t pass a drug test. 

When CMT opened 34 years ago in Youngstown, he recalls hiring workers who had acquired the skills they needed simply by using their hands to build something at a young age.

“You had what you’d consider shadetree mechanics,” he says. “Those kids grew up building soap box derby cars and mini bikes. That’s how I grew up. Those are skills you learn at an early age that are applicable your entire life.”

Today, those sentiments have changed.       

“On a car today, ask a kid if he’s ever changed the oil,” he continues. “A basic, simple thing, but half of them probably don’t know that it needs to be changed on a regular basis.”

With many of CMT’s 65 workers looking to retire soon, the company is preparing to hire up to 20 machinists and mechanics this year.

“We’re looking to transfer the skills from our gray hairs to the young people to instill our future, but also instill the future of the Mahoning Valley and our business,” Michael Kovach says. “That’s what we’re looking for and that’s what we’re having a hard time finding.”

Becky Wall, vice president and chief financial officer of Dearing Compressor and Pump Co. in Youngstown, agrees there is a lack of awareness about the skilled trades, but sees the country moving toward increasing awareness along with opportunity for these workers.

“We lost two decades to skilled-trade jobs when the country moved to creating college general studies degrees to take the place of skilled-trade careers,” Wall says. “It didn’t work out and now we are shifting back.”

Wall is planning on taking part in celebrating the first Wednesday in May by shining a spotlight on the Dearing team, she says.

“With so many fun and whimsical days to celebrate, the Dearing company is pleased to stand for and celebrate something meaningful and life changing like manufacturing jobs and the skilled tradesman that do great work and make a very livable living,” she says.

CMT will celebrate the day this May in a variety of ways. In the morning, doughnuts will be offered to juniors and seniors from Mahoning County Career and Technical Center’s precision machining class, who are touring CMT’s facility. 

A catered lunch will be offered to CMT’s employees. And between 4 and 7 p.m. that evening, CMT will be at Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology downtown to do a “dress up as a skilled-trades worker” photo booth.

“Thank your employees for being in the skilled trades and honor them a little bit on this day,” Claudia Kovach advises her business colleagues.

Jean Gaetano, communications director for Vallourec Star in Youngstown, says the company sees a need for skilled labor in the areas of electrical, mechanical, equipment maintenance and operators of computerized equipment. 

The pipe and tube producer supports efforts like National Skilled Trades Day to build awareness, recognize and grow the talent pool of the skilled workforce. 

Locally, Vallourec is an active participant in the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition campaign to engage the school systems from kindergarten through 12th grade and four-year universities to develop and strengthen curricula.

“Teachers, counselors and parents influence students’ career paths,” Gaetano says. “Partnering with them to understand the potential these positions offer for well-paying jobs with good benefits and long-term stability would be a great opportunity for National Skilled Trades Day.”

In conjunction with the day, the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center is celebrating In-Demand Jobs Week May 6-10 with Lt. Gov. Jon Husted’s office by having third-grade students from area schools visit the technical center and learn about the health care, IT and manufacturing trades.

“It’s always a great opportunity when you can highlight careers experiencing a skills gap,” says Jeremy Corbisello, director/assistant supervisor at CCCTC. 

“There are plenty of job opportunities right now. There are a lot of folks unemployed or underemployed and a lot of businesses who have skilled-trades positions available. It’s our job as educators to provide training for those folks to be qualified to take those positions.”

Michael Kovach adds, “We deal with a lot of companies, some international, and they all talk the same thing: This is a need across the nation, it’s not only Youngstown.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.