Skilled Trades Expo Slated for Sept. 21-22

CANFIELD – Nearly everything built or created in the region was completed with the work of skilled craftsman and laborers.

The Mahoning Valley Skilled Trades Expo next week will provide a first-hand look both for area students and job seekers interested in finding out more about many well paying jobs.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sept. 21 and 22, the Expo plans to see about 5,000 students from Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Portage and Geauga Counties in Ohio and Mercer, Lawrence and Crawford Counties in Pennsylvania, come through the Canfield Fair Grounds.

The students in 7th-12th grades will get a chance to see displays from 15 different skilled trades, talk to the people involved in those fields and participate in hands on activities where they see what it takes to accomplish those skilled jobs and do them well.

Additionally, from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 21, the event will be open to the public at large. Those interested in pursuing a new career path or students whose schools might not have registered to attend are welcome at that time.

Gary Hartman, association services director for The Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, said representatives will be available to help people learn if it is a good fit and there will be no charge or application fee.

It also gives the students a chance to get their hands a little bit dirty and talk to someone to learn more in the trades.

“Everybody has a little bit of a different area, but the members of the building trades put a ton of time and work into the displays, making them interactive and increasing that involvement for students there, so they are not just walking around looking at it,” Hartman said. “They’re not just talking to people. They are getting their hands dirty, using the different tools to experience what some of the trades are doing.”

Locally, Hartman expects 500 apprenticeship positions will be filled for the 2022-2023 year, many with pay-as-you-learn benefits and some times free college credits. But even that large number is still fewer than the projected need.

The average age of people working in the skilled trades industry is 43 or 44 years old says Hartman and by 2025 it is predicted the industry will be two million employees short as people retire or leave through attrition.

Hartman notes the problem is not just one of the skilled trades. There are many professions needing to fill positions and the shortages are not just here in the Mahoning Valley.

“It’s not something we’re just starting addressing now, Hartman said. “It’s something we started addressing pre-covid, but post-2020 has made things slightly more difficult in getting qualified applicants and filling those positions within the trades as well.”

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