CINCINNATI -- Ask any group of teenagers about their career choices and chances are few will answer, “I want to work in manufacturing.”
That’s an attitude that needs an adjustment, said Stephen Tucker, director of Industry Partnerships for Partners for a Competitive Workforce. The organization is a collaborative of local business, education and philanthropic groups focused on providing the present and future workforce with skills employers need.
"We are running into a shortage for manufacturing jobs, which is the second largest private sector employer after health care,” said Tucker. He cited a Jobs Outlook 2020 Study released in 2012, which stated that there will be more than 180,000 advanced manufacturing job openings within the next 10 years.
Tucker said the partnership was looking for a way to show students manufacturing could be both a dynamic option and a way to break into engineering and technology. It came across a video contest in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, entitled “What’s So Cool about Manufacturing?” which was designed by employers and educators to help improve the image of manufacturing.
Now in its third year, the “Dream It, Do It,” program has emerged as a national platform to promote manufacturing and inspire younger generations. A popular YouTube video describes the program.
So the program's leadership decided to import it to Greater Cincinnati. The effort is sponsored by JP Morgan Chase and Toyota. Other local partners include Tech Solve, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Dodd Camera and WCET Connect, Cincinnati’s Public Broadcast Station.
Local Teams Study And Document Industry
Fourteen teams of local middle school students (seventh- and eighth-graders) have been paired with local manufacturers and are being supervised by teacher coaches. They have been provided with video equipment and instructional materials. Each team will produce a video that describes what the manufacturer does and the significance of the work and product.
The schools are:
- Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy
- Deer Park
- North College Hill
- Pleasant Run
- Grant County
- Gray Middle School
And the local manufacturers are:
- Meyer Tool
- Atmos 360
- Richards Industries
- Metal Working Group
- Thyssenkrupp Bilstein
- Cincinnati Sub Zero
- Stober Drives
- Amor USA
The companies participating in the contest make products that range from simple valves to complex aircraft engine parts.
Guyton Mathews, superintendent of Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy, is mentoring his school’s team and said he wants to make it clear to students that manufacturing is a career option.
Mathews’ students are working with StandardAero which makes aircraft engine parts.
Understanding What Future Employers Need
“Manufacturing is an important part of the future, and it plays a huge role in keeping the jobs here in America, if there are enough people to do the work,” Mathews said.
The Partners for a Competitive Workforce leaders believe a nationwide movement to build awareness about industry careers among middle-school students, their parents, teachers and the public is an important cause.
Tucker said although seven of 10 Americans believe manufacturing is the backbone of the U.S. economy, only three in 10 parents want their children to pursue careers in manufacturing.
He also said young teachers tend to come straight out of college into teaching and have not had careers in the industry, which gives them little knowledge about manufacturing.
The only way to encourage students to pursue careers in manufacturing is to facilitate relationships with local companies, he said.
“I will just give you one example to show how manufacturing can make a life or death difference. Incubators save the lives of premature babies, and it’s a product of manufacturing in our local area, but no one thinks about this stuff,” Tucker said.