Johnson Praises Students at New Castle School of Trades

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — For the first time in many years, there is a workforce development problem in Ohio, inasmuch as there are more jobs than there are workers to fill them.

That was the message from U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, who spoke Wednesday morning to about 50 students at New Castle School of Trades about the importance of attracting young people into the trades.

“We’ve got a lot of jobs. We have seen very few times in America where we’ve had more jobs than workers, so we have a workforce development problem,” Johnson said. “We need to help young people understand they have choices other than a four-year education and accumulating student debt in the process. There are lots of jobs in the trades along the river and there will be even more as we see energy development begin to expand.”

During the 2015 groundbreaking ceremony for the school, officials reported that a 2011 survey showed 600,000 manufacturing jobs were vacant because of a lack of skilled laborers. Since then, unemployment rates in Ohio have dropped significantly, Johnson said.

“I enjoy helping folks understand they don’t have to have a four-year degree to make a good living,” he continued.

Johnson addresses NCST students on the importance of alternatives to four-year degrees.

Johnson told the roomful of students about one family whose children chose different paths: one attending a traditional four-year college to earn a degree in computer science, ultimately earning an annual salary in the $43,000 range, and the other attending a trade school to become a plumber/pipefitter. The latter, with overtime, earns six figures, he said.

“You can imagine what their conversation was like around the Thanksgiving table,” he joked with the students, adding, “The opportunities are there.”

The congressmen reminded them the state of Ohio has always been innovative, saying, “We are problem solvers.” He pointed out that inventors such as Thomas Edison and astronauts such as John Glenn as well as the Wright Brothers were from Ohio.

“I applaud what you’re doing. Stay at it. I appreciate it, and the companies you are going to be working at will appreciate it too,” he told the students.

Afterward, the congressman joined Mayor Ryan Stovall on a tour of the school by Jim Buttermore, director, who demonstrated classrooms set aside for electrical and industrial maintenance, refrigeration and climate control and welding courses. There is also a commercial truck driving course located apart from the downtown location behind the Westgate School Complex.

Buttermore advised the congressman that students want hands-on training as Johnson looked favorably at some of the classroom equipment available.

“They want to touch it, break it, fix it,” Buttermore smiled, saying, “We try to be state-of-the-art.”

As he viewed the facilities, Johnson told Buttermore, “We need to make sure people know you’re here. The skills you’re putting out are exactly the skills people are looking for.”

As a veteran, Johnson asked how the school is recruiting veterans, noting there had been at least 10 students who raised their hands when he asked how many in the audience were veterans. NCST promotes its Veteran’s Education Benefits on its website, Buttermore said.

Johnson commended Buttermore for the workforce development solutions the school provides. “We like being here,” Buttermore replied, adding the city has been “very open to us.”

New Castle School of Trades broke ground on its East Liverpool campus in 2015.

New Castle School of Trades was founded in Pennsylvania in 1945, and ground was broken in October 2015 on the East Liverpool campus, with extensive historically-correct renovations completed on two formerly abandoned Fifth Street buildings, the former Ogilvie’s Department Store and Woolworth’s 5 & 10.

The $7.5 million project was an accumulative effort of the NCST, East Liverpool Community Partnership for Revitalization, and city and county officials with the hope that the school would serve as an economic development catalyst for the city’s downtown, while offering educational opportunities and job placement.

Pictured above: NCST Director Jim Buttermore guides Johnson and East Liverpool Mayor Ryan Stovall on a tour of the school.

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