UNION TWP., Ohio - The help wanted sign for 25 jobs is out right now at Multi-Color Corporation, but the Clermont County company can't find enough qualified people to fill them.
"You have to not be afraid to work on a computer. You have to not be afraid to run a machine. You have to have a great attention to detail," trainer Jeff McVicker said Wednesday. "We're looking for folks that have some mechanical aptitude -- have good math skills."
Multi-Color Corporation makes a wide variety of labels for consumer products that are sold around the world. Employment is 185 -- up 25 from a year. Sales this year are projected to reach $72 million.
Still, these new advanced manufacturing positions go unfilled. It's both the technical training and soft skills that company officials find lacking.
"The attitude, attendance and quality of the individuals are what we're looking for," said Human Resources Manager Cheryl Legge. "We're looking for folks who will be at work every day and hold themselves accountable for being here."
Closing that gap is the reason that Workforce One in Clermont County put together an educational bus trip to three Clermont County advanced manufacturing firms Wednesday. Educators from Butler, Clermont and Warren counties participated.
There were tours of Milacron in Batavia Township, plus L-3 Fusing and Ordinance Systems and Multi-Color Corporation in Union Township.
During lunch at Multi-Color Corporation, Williamsburg Local Schools Superintendent Jeff Weir moderated a solutions-oriented panel discussion with the educators and human resources professionals.
"There are a lot of things that manufacturers don't know about and the educators don't know about," said Work Force One's Cathy Sahlfeld. "Bringing the two together is a great opportunity to start that dialogue and make connections."
The main focus of the forum was how to close the skill gap of students in STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math.
"In the education field, I feel a little disappointed because maybe we're not doing our jobs right to make sure our students are prepared to come out of college," said UC Clermont Assistant Dean John Nelson.
Nelson said that going forward, educators and manufacturers need to communicate better with one another.
"We have to spend time with the employers -- find out that their needs are," he said. "Students need to know what they have to do to perform -- have the right educational skills."
Butler Tech Recruiter Kelly Bivis said the plant tours really opened her eyes to what an advanced manufacturing environment is like.
"It's clean. It's not an assembly line type of thing where someone is hammering at something all day long," she said. "They're really using their brains and thinking."
Both sides agreed there's work to do and promised to roll up their sleeves to begin benefiting one another.
Bivis said it makes her more determined to help students realize what they need to do to be succeed.
"I want to get students pumped up about manufacturing jobs that are out there because they really don't understand what the field is like," she said. "We can give them the skills at our school to be successful in this environment and help them see the vision for what their future could be.
Excitement is also the emotion that Nelson also feels about the future.
"This is doable, but it requires work," he said.
McVicker said he agreed with that sentiment.
"We've got to be sure the teachers know what the students need to learn so they're prepared to come into this manufacturing environment," he said.
Beyond that is bringing the proper attitude to the job.
"We are willing to invest in our employees and the individuals who want to be part of the organization, but we need them to invest back in us," Legge said.
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