Manufacturing Summit Touts Trades to Columbiana Students

By Lisa Solley
LISBON, Ohio – Columbiana County Career & Technical Center Director Jeremy Corbisello had a simple request of more than 60 high school students Friday morning – keep an open mind.

Corbisello’s parting words to students were meant to help sophomores from eight Columbiana County high schools explore all of their options before deciding on a career path. Students then boarded buses to tour six area manufacturing plants.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, hosted a Manufacturing Your Future Summit to show kids they have the ability for a career in manufacturing or skilled trades that allows them to remain in the area and earn a sustainable living.

“I don’t know if you realize how important you are to the future of the United States and the difference you can make,” Johnson said. “Every generation has an unbelievable responsibility and challenge to write the next chapter.”

Students tour MAC Trailer with U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, Leon “LJ” Miles, quality control supervisor for inspection, and Jeff Sheen, vice president of operations.

Johnson looked around the cafeteria and noted that some students will go to a four-year college and some will choose to pursue a traditional skill. “Today is meant to give you an idea of what some of your options are,” Johnson said, noting he was from tobacco country in North Carolina, grew up with no indoor plumbing and joined the Air Force and made a career out it for 27 years.

Corbisello focused on career opportunities. He asked for a show of hands of who planned to go to college, join the workforce or enlist in the military. Dozens of hands went up each time. Plans can vary, he said, and that’s why the tour gives them an opportunity to experience something they may not have realized could be a career.

The technical center recently implemented the “What’s Your E” program, which has all juniors declare what career they are working toward. The school gives students opportunities for job shadowing and other work-based programs. He said students have the ability to change, but it sets them on a course.

Students can begin in trade school and do some training with partner companies. By a student’s senior year, half of the day can be training and getting paid. “Our kids can graduate and be a year ahead of others,” he said. “Many of them end up getting moved from training into full-time employment.”

Caleb Shafer of Salem High School plans to enlist in the military after he graduates. “I’ll probably go into the Army. I want to serve, but I can also learn skills that will give me an opportunity to have a career,” he said.

Salem High School sophomores Caleb Shafer, Carson Stockman and Taton Ellis attended the summit.

He’s interested in mechanics and engineering and believes the military can help him secure a job. He said he’ll possibly stay in the area after the military, but it depends on opportunities.

Taton Ellis plans on going to North Carolina for college and then hopes to pursue a law degree. At least, that’s what he has been looking into. Ellis moved to Salem a year ago from Coshocton. He was looking forward to the summit to learn about trade skills. His father and grandfather are carpenters, and he said being able to make money in a trade is a good second option.

Whatever he decides, Ellis said he wants to return to Salem if he is able to get a job in law.

“I really like the town and the people,” he said.

During a tour of Mac Trailer, tour guide Leon Miles told students how after earning his GED, he worked at a few shops before coming to the company in Salem. The Youngstown native started entry level. He had no technical certifications, but had some experience with inspection processes. He said the company has trained him and after eight years, he is now the quality control supervisor in the inspection department.

“This has turned out to be a great career. I’m able to make a good wage and take care of my family and I have a GED,” he said.

Jacob Furry, inspector mechanic at Mac Trailer, works on a vehicle.

Dave Russell, environmental health and safety manager, also toured the plant with students. He spent 16 years in law enforcement but had been welding since he was 13.

“It doesn’t matter if you have a degree or not. I have three college degrees,” he said standing next to Miles. “We’re both supervisors here. Manufacturing offers many career options besides working on the floor. We have engineers, human resources, purchasing, so manufacturing takes a lot of different job skills. There are a lot of important wealthy people in manufacturing.”

Carson Stockman is a sophomore at Salem who is a starting lineman on the football team. He doesn’t know if he has a future in the game and he’s not sure of his plans as far as a career.

“Manufacturing is appealing because you can get ahead and make some money,” he said. “I’m pretty open minded and looking at the full spectrum.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.