Employers Meet TCTC Students in First ‘E Week’ Program

WARREN, Ohio – The Trumbull Career & Technical Center launched its first “E Week,” connecting students from all programs with post-graduation opportunities.

Thursday was one of five days, where students got to meet face-to-face with local employers in various trades.

“This was year one of this structure, and we will adapt accordingly for years to come,” said Morgan Cretella, community engagement specialist at TCTC. “I hope this is the start of something that we’ll continue to do.”

“We encourage students during their time here to find their ‘E’ – enrollment, enlistment and employment,” said Nathan Berry, career development coordinator at TCTC.

E Week will likely become an ongoing program, Berry said.

“The importance is simply connecting students with outside industry, whatever that might be for them, or connecting them with someone who can help connect them with their plan moving forward after they graduate,” he said.

Berry said about 800 students have come everyday, with the exception of Wednesday, where about 100 students attended.

“February is Career Technical Education Month and, obviously, as a career center it is a good opportunity for us to celebrate our students,” Cretella said.

E Week kicked off Monday. Students met with college recruiters Tuesday, explored military career options Wednesday and networked with local employers Thursday.

Friday closes out the week with a sharing of feedback from students and their plans for their next steps in education.

Cretella said that several years ago, the 3 E’s Campaign was created to ensure students are put on the right path before graduation.

“We have about 42 employers with us here today from a wide variety of industries,” she said. “It is a good way just for all of the students to learn about all the paths and possibilities they can take to have some success after graduation.”

Cretella said in the past, the school has had other career fairs and college recruiters came in, but E Week gives the school the opportunity to bundle those activities together throughout a one-week period.

“We got multiple, different pathways represented here at TCTC, so we felt like that diverse group is going to fit our audience best,” she said.

Cretella said so far they have received positive feedback from the students.

Adding to Their Ranks

One employer at Thursday’s event was JD Miller, director of project management for Pattie Group Inc. He said the eastern Cleveland-based landscape development company started in 1968.

“We run the gamut in services, from simple maintenance and grass cutting to building some of the most elaborate backyards in the country,” he said.

Pattie Group Inc. project managers Randy Collins, left, and JD Miller.

Since Pattie Group is a general contractor, Miller said they hire employees from a wide range of trade backgrounds to fill positions.

“We are looking to add to our ranks – innovated and young kids that have a desire to thrive within the green industry and our industry definitely have the exposure to all the others,” he said. “We are looking for young kids that really haven’t figured it out quite yet, but they are definitely looking to be exposed to those broader building trades.”

Pattie Group employs roughly 150 people, Miller said, and the company is looking to hire employees for positions such as architects, engineers, designers, technicians, sales, human resources, project management, building management and project directors. The company also employs 50 to 60 other organizations as subcontractors.

“If you can imagine a position within the building trades, we more than likely have one open,” he said.

Pattie Group has had a hard time filling lower technician roles, Miller said. 

Being able to make those face-to-face connections with the upcoming workforce is “invaluable” to organizations such as Pattie Group, he said. 

“The green industry maybe sometimes has a negative connotation for some,” he said. “We employ some very educated and passionate people. We run the gamut on skilled trade.

“We get you exposed to everything that you can fathom,” Miller added. “Between our fleet of 80 vehicles on the mechanic side that can come in and fix all of our equipment to the electricians and the plumbers that are plumbing all of the swimming pools, we got something for everybody,” he said.

Miller said it is a stigma that young people do not like to work. 

“We have to change with the younger generations to provide them with the ability for an outlet for their skills,” he said. “… They are great people with great skills, and it is up to us to figure out how to harness that.”

Checking Out Pattie Group

Jermaine Brogdon, an 11th-grade TCTC student from Warren G. Harding High School, said he has been doing volunteer landscape work with his uncle, cutting grass and planting flower beds for a long time and plans to work at the school in the summer.

Brogdon was one of the students who spoke with Pattie Group. He said he was happy to find out the company works with a variety of skilled trades. 

“I heard they have electricians, plumbers – you name it, they got it,” he said. 

Fixing machines and learning about different plants is what Brogdon said interests him about working outdoors.

“My passion for landscape is learning different machines, and flowers really interest me,” he said. “There are so many different flowers that work in different environments.”

When looking into potential careers, Brogdon said benefits he would like to see from employers are health insurance and bonuses.

‘Lack of Interest and Focus’ in Trades

Carisa Sechrist, another employer at Thursday’s event, is the human resources generalist for Ellwood Quality Steels Co., a part of Ellwood Group, which melts steel into molten metal and creates ingots.

Sechrist said the company of nearly 220 people is looking for students to be a part of their production and maintenance team and is urging students to further their education into the trades. 

“We feel like that [is] where there has been a lack of interest and focus,” she said. “We would really like to see students go that direction and look at that kind of future.”

A main trait Sechrist said the company is looking for in students is a good work ethic and an open mind for growth. 

Currently, Ellwood is looking for electricians, electronic technicians, millwrights and production staff. Sechrist said salaries vary depending on where employees come in.

Although Ellwood hasn’t struggled much with retention rates, Sechrist said she has seen many other companies struggle with this issue.

“Being out there and seeing what other companies have gone through, I know it has been hard. It’s always a focus to try to keep everyone happy, so I think you are definitely seeing an uptick in individuals who are interested in applying and wanting to work in this industry,” Sechrist said.

“Trades have not been a focus for so long that that’s where you need to see a serious push,” she said.

Love for Welding

Aiden Hadi, an 11th-grade student from Girard who is focusing on fabrication, was one of the students who spoke with Sechrist at the EQS table.

Hadi said he found his love for welding during his time in Boy Scouts, where he started getting various merit badges and learning about different fields 

Aiden Hadi, an 11th-grade student from Girard, meets with Carisa Sechrist, human resources generalist for Ellwood Quality Steels Co.

“I took the welding merit badge and I took the metalworking merit badge, and it ignited something,” he said. “I got really excited and really started liking metal work, and I started messing around with it at home.” 

After visiting TCTC’s welding lab, he said he immediately enrolled.

“In the class, we have a lot of room on getting welding done, and we learn how to do different processes that are not exactly welding but work hand in hand with it,” he said.

Hadi said he wants to be an ironworker. During his time visiting different tables, he asked employers a variety of questions.

“I am asking them about whether they do job shadows, what they look for in employees, as well as what kind of benefits they have working there,” he said. 

Employers willing to hire those still in high school or those who have just graduated is another factor Hadi said he is looking for.

Pictured at top: Jermaine Brogdon, an 11th-grade TCTC student from Warren G. Harding High School, shakes hands with JD Miller, a project manager for Pattie Group Inc.

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