Students from Middletown and Monroe high schools listen to AK Steel research engineer Grant Thomas after viewing a hot rolling process demonstration as part of Manufacturing Day in 2015. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Butler County companies offer student tours for Manufacturing Month

A broad spectrum of careers is in demand in Southwestern Ohio, with more than 500 open positions in Middletown, Monroe and Trenton alone. These opportunities include, but are not limited to skilled and unskilled labor, customer service, engineering and technical roles.

As baby boomers retire and the economy continues to expand, an estimated 3.5 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. remain unfilled. With automation and advanced computer technology on the rise, the need for skilled and qualified individuals is growing steadily. As a result, the struggle for manufacturers to locate skilled workers has led to competition within the industry that yields better benefits and higher wages for credentialed employees.

In an effort to spread awareness and dispel outdated myths about 21st century manufacturing, The Chamber is encouraging its manufacturing members to host facility tours for high-school students. So far, 12 organizations have pledged to help introduce and inspire the next generation as they complete their education and prepare to enter the workforce.

Manufacturing boasts some of the highest combined salaries and benefits of any industry in the world, and skilled workers are in demand now more than ever before.

“Students today are under a lot of pressure to choose a path after graduation, and we feel it’s important to make sure they are aware of all their options, especially those here at home,” said Craig Hladik, North American Director of Operations at Quaker Chemical Corporation. “Our local economy has revolved around manufacturing for decades, but advances in automation, technology and safety have completely redefined the industry as we know it. Modern factories are much cleaner and safer than they were for previous generations.”

According to the United States Department of Education, less than one-third of Ohio college students pursuing a bachelor’s degree from a public university will graduate on time. What’s more, two-thirds of Ohio college graduates will start their careers with an average of $30,200 in debt.

Taking this into consideration, it is essential for students to understand that college is one of many options they have after graduation, and is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution for success.

The overarching goal of The Chamber’s Manufacturing Month, and the nationally celebrated Manufacturing Day on Oct. 6, is to provide students with the knowledge and perspective they need to make an educated decision as they transition into a world after high school.

Dr. Phil Cagwin, Monroe Local Schools superintendent, has spent 42 years teaching and administrating students of all ages. “From an educational perspective, one of our most important jobs is to ensure that students are ready for the next step in life and can be successful in that endeavor, regardless of what that path may be.”

For more information or to get involved, call the Chamber office at 513-422-4551.

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