VOICES: In-Demand Jobs Week spotlights benefits of manufacturing careers

Across Ohio, May 1-5 is In-Demand Jobs Week. Manufacturers like me look forward to this annual event, which allows employers to host events and activities to inspire the next generation of Ohioans who will soon enter the workforce.

This year, In-Demand Jobs Week has a special focus – highlighting rewarding jobs tied to the skills taught at career tech centers, which produce much of Ohio’s manufacturing talent. (Check out the interactive map on topjobs.ohio.gov/week to find an In-Demand Jobs Week event near you.)

Spreading the word about In-Demand Jobs Week is important for manufacturers. While these are exciting times in our sector, Ohio’s talent shortage poses an ongoing challenge to the growth of the Buckeye State’s largest industry.

According to Ohio Means Jobs, there are more than 20,000 open positions statewide at manufacturing businesses. Meanwhile, the ability to recruit and retain workers consistently ranks among manufacturers’ top concerns.

Even in a manufacturing state like Ohio, many young people and career switchers are often unaware of opportunities that exist in modern manufacturing. Even worse, decades-old misconceptions prevent many young people – as well as their parents and career counselors – from investigating manufacturing’s multitude of career options.

Here are the key messages I share with young people who take time to explore manufacturing as a possible career:

  • U.S. manufacturing is thriving. Today, America manufacturers more than ever. In Ohio – the nation’s third largest manufacturing state in terms of jobs and payroll – manufacturing’s economic output recently set a new annual record of $130 billion. And a new report finds that in 2022, reshoring and foreign direct investments created more than 360,000 U.S. jobs – a 53% increase from the 2021 record.
  • Manufacturing is essential. When COVID-19 broke in 2020 – and most of the world came to an abrupt halt – it was the manufacturing industry that kept working. As essential workers in an essential industry, manufacturers made the products that helped us overcome the virus and kept the country functioning. In manufacturing, you will always have a career!
  • Manufacturing pays well. The average annual earnings of Ohio workers on manufacturing payrolls in 2021 were $67,000. The average hourly earnings of Ohio manufacturing employees were $30.92 as of October 2022. With so much attention given to student debt, younger Ohioans need to know manufacturing careers can help them avoid debt altogether, offering above-average wages and salaries compared to other industries.
  • Manufacturing jobs lead to career growth. At our company, for example, we value promoting from within. More than 50% of our team members have moved into positions of greater skill and/or responsibility during their time at Staub. We also have many team members who started here with no skills in the trades and today hold positions as certified welders, laser operators, and other skilled leaders.
  • Manufacturing is high tech. From 3-D printing to machining to next-gen robotics, there isn’t a more exciting industry than manufacturing. All of the machines in our shop (and most shops) are operated by computers. The machine operators must be as much computer programmers as they are technicians. Our employees work alongside robots – proving that manufacturing is tomorrow’s technology today.

Right now, Ohio is writing the next chapter of its manufacturing legacy. And this will be our most important chapter yet.

Ohioans of any age who want to help our state and nation make history can explore manufacturing careers at MakingOhio.com. Then take a few minutes to visit with manufacturers in your community, especially those opening their doors during In-Demand Jobs Week.

Steve Staub is president of Staub Manufacturing Solutions, a Dayton-based metal fabricator and contract manufacturer, and serves on the board of The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, which represents more than 1,300 manufacturers statewide.

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