Husted, Local Leaders Praise MVMC WorkAdvance Program

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the Excellence Training Center on Youngstown State University campus will be the hub where thousands will flock to learn the skills for jobs of today and tomorrow.

During a tour of the center on Thursday, he said he speaks with global companies looking to migrate their business to the United States and more specifically Ohio – seeking to plant roots where there is a trained workforce.

“This is a hub for workforce development, both to help the individual learn the skills that will lead to a great career, and to be able to sell the Mahoning Valley to employers that you’re going to create the talent that you need for them to be successful,” Husted said.

The 54,000-square-foot center trains workers in advanced manufacturing, including automation, robotics, industrial maintenance and 3D additive manufacturing.

On hand for the tour were students taking part in the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition’s WorkAdvance program at the center. The five-week, paid training initiative aims to prepare unemployed or underemployed workers for entry-level, growth-oriented positions with local manufacturers.

Christina Miller from EGCC’s Aspire program; Lt. Gov. Jon Husted; Wasilwa Mwonyonyi, career engagement coordinator and recruiter at the National Center for Urban Solutions; and Amelia Taggart, EGCC technical training, joined students from the Mahoning Valley Manufacturing Coalition’s WorkAdvance Cohort at the Excellence Training Center Thursday.

The National Center for Urban Solutions and United Returning Citizens, both funded through the General Motors Community Support Fund, recruited the students trained by instructors from Eastern Gateway Community College at the Excellence Training Center.

After General Motors closed its Lordstown plant in March 2019, the state of Ohio ordered GM to pay back $28 million in tax credits. In addition, the Michigan-based company invested $12 million for community development in Ohio, which is where this MVMC program originates in the form of $1.5 million allocated.

This training is available to prepare individuals for careers at employers like Ultium Cells and Lordstown Motors, as well as other local employers involved in aerospace, additive manufacturing and automotive.

“It can be here,” Husted said. “We need to make sure that people have the skills to take advantage of it and we can sell the next employer on expanding here.”

Sabrina Jones, National Center for Urban Solutions vice president of education and workforce in the northeast region, said there are 10 individuals in the current cohort being trained to work jobs at General Extrusions Inc., along with four others geared toward other facets. Through NCUS TEC, which provides industry-specific certification training, the organization is able to offer more credentialing skills that students can stack onto their training. NCUS receives funds from Ohio’s Office of Workforce Transformation through an Industry Partnership Grant. 

“Then we can see them being able to make anywhere between $18 to $20 an hour,” Jones said.

Through door-to-door visits, speaking to family members of students attending schools connected with NCUS and traditional advertising, as well as face-to-face interaction, NCUS attracts applicants to programs, like those found at the Excellence Training Center, she said.

NCUS and United Returning Citizens – a Youngstown-based nonprofit providing job search and training, life and financial literacy skills and transitional and stable housing primarily for citizens reentering society from correctional facilities – are trying to find new workers. The organizations recruit from Ashtabula to Columbiana County, locating untapped individuals and moving them toward self-sufficiency, Jones said.

“Anybody who feels they’re not happy with their position or they need some self-sufficiency, those are the individuals we’re looking for – that untapped workforce,” she said.

MVMC Executive Director Jessica Borza said there are a half dozen manufacturers ready to hire employees out of this training, and are committed to supporting employees through advancement. There are three more weeks to go for the General Extrusions training, and recruiting is currently happening for Pennex Aluminum, she said.

These are entry-level positions starting from $14 to $17 an hour, Borza said, with more training forthcoming in addition to the training received at the Excellence Training Center. 

“If they’re willing to continue their learning and get more skills, there are incremental increases that would happen fairly quickly after that,” she said. 

Employers attending Thursday’s gathering were introduced to some of the potential employees. The MVMC is supporting manufactures who are growing, hiring and have challenges recruiting workers.

This is the first month of the partnership as Borza hopes to accelerate efforts as there are about 300 positions between the six companies currently involved.

“I had three of them come up to me after the event and say, ‘I was introduced to a few of the candidates, now get me 98 more of them,’ ” Borza said. “They mean it. This is really their projections.”

Pictured: David Sipusic, Excellence Training Center executive director, demonstrates 3D printers for Lt. Gov. Jon Husted Thursday.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.