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Shortage of Tri-State manufacturing workers reaching 'crisis' levels

That means there are great opportunities, too
Posted at 7:33 PM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-11 16:58:13-04

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Like many areas of the country, the Tri-State is facing a shortage of employees ready to enter manufacturing jobs. That's why local schools are getting students ready to fill the empty spaces in the workforce.

"I would say we are in a crisis right now as it involves in the skills gap for manufacturing," Partners for Competitive Workforce director of industry partnerships Debbie Combs said.

It's a crisis that classrooms throughout the Tri-State are preparing students for. Programs at the Colerain Career Center allow high school students to take career programs sponsored by Butler Tech.

"It got me interested because I like working with my hands and machines," Colerain High School junior Sam Greenlee said.

He has high hopes of pursuing a manufacturing job right out of high school.

"Manufacturing always needs jobs, so if you can get a job out of high school, it's pretty good for your field," Greenlee said.

The need for manufacturing jobs in the Tri-State is so great that Butler Tech partnered with Colerain High School to help students get jobs as soon as they graduate.

"I bet if I walked into my office right now, there's going to be somebody asking me if I have somebody available for jobs," Butler Tech precision machine instructor David Fox said. "Right now, I have about 50 students, and I probably have about 100 job offers per year."

The need for skilled manufacturing workers goes beyond the Tri-State. Over the next decade, experts predict nearly 3.5 million workers will be needed, and 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled. 

"The industry as a whole has a crisis in the perception of manufacturing, and it's not the grandfather's manufacturing companies anymore," Combs said.

In the Tri-State, the employment gap is so large because manufacturing is the second largest private sector employer.

"In our region, manufacturing it is technical," Combs said. "They need math, they need computers, experience."