By Kalea Hall
The model the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers’ Coalition created will be used throughout the state to help end the manufacturing workforce shortage.
On Friday, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association President Eric Burkland told members of the MVMC how unique the organization is.
“Nobody has put together a model like you have,” he said at the coalition’s quarterly meeting. “You have built the model. We hope to spread the model around the state.”
The OMA is going to work with government agencies to create other manufacturers’ coalitions throughout the state. The problem needed to be solved is the shortage in qualified, skilled workers for the manufacturing industry. The MVMC was formed five years ago by area manufacturers and educational institutions to address the issue. The manufacturers and the institutions work together to prepare students for the workforce.
“It’s really gratifying to be recognized as a model that they think is moving in the right direction,” said Jessica Borza, executive director of the MVMC. “We have talked to them about our keys to success and lessons learned.”
The OMA was formed in 1910 to help manufacturers drive down the cost of doing business. Burkland said the biggest concern for manufacturing’s future is the lack of skilled workers available to fill shifts.
“You can’t just come in anymore without any skills,” he said. “The environments are too technically advanced. What’s coming next is another new wave of new technology.”
The MVMC offers apprenticeship programs and works with career centers and higher education institutions to get students the certifications employers want.
The MVMC along with several partners, including Youngstown State University, is working to open a “teaching factory” called the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center. In the center, students at local universities and career centers in different fields of study can work side by side.
Mike Hripko, associate vice president for research at YSU, said Friday that the next step is finding a location for the center in Youngstown.
“We are moving forward on site selection and operations design,” he said.
Also at Friday’s meeting, John Burr of BOC Water Hydraulics was honored for his outstanding contribution as an MVMC member.