Clark County manufacturers hope to inspire, recruit next generation of workers

McGregor Metalworking Companies opened one of its manufacturing floors to Clark County students with the hope of attracting a new generation of employees.

“We want to show students that there are local options not for just jobs, but careers,” said Jan Gillis, who works in the human resources department for two of McGregor’s four manufacturing facilities in the area.

On Friday, in accordance with National Manufacturing Day, more than 100 students from three area high schools walked around the floor of Ohio Stamping and Machining as workers carried metal frames and machines pressed parts from sheets of metal.

MORE: Manufacturing Day: Students ‘exposed to the latest and greatest technologies’

They were followed by a group of 60 Wittenberg University students, studying accounting, who were working on a project cataloging the cost for local manufacturing operations.

The goal of the tour and Manufacturing Day is to introduce and educate the next generation about jobs in the manufacturing field. That could include encouraging high school students to pursue internships or apply to work on the floor once they graduate, said Jeannie Seery, a Human Resources manager for McGregor.

She said the effort to reach and engage with students at an earlier age stems from the fact that manufacturers, including those in the area, are having trouble filling skilled labor positions and retaining employees.

A shortage in skilled labor has prompted some area manufacturers to create in-house training programs as well as work more closely with local colleges and high schools. The goal is to build a work force capable of filling positions that will soon be vacated by retirees.

“We lost a pipeline of candidates for manufacturing,” Seery said.

That has prompted local manufacturers to take a more aggressive approach in recruiting candidates. For some, it includes visiting local classrooms and opening up tours of their facilities to not only high school students, but those in middle school as well.

Seery said they are starting to see the fruits of those efforts as some students her company has connected with over the past seven years have become employees or applied for internships. McGregor has about 300 employees.

The company has participated in Manufacturing Day for seven years. Every year, the first Friday in October nationwide is set aside to show students, teachers and guidance counselors that manufacturing is still a viable career option.

“We want to raise awareness that there are other options. College is a good goal. But, its not always the right fit for everyone. Especially for some just graduating high school,” said Kevin Smith, a training coordinator for Ohio Stamping and Machining, a McGregor Metalworking company.

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Angelia Erbaugh, the president of the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association, said they counted 58 manufacturing open houses in the Dayton region on Friday.

For two Springfield High School students, a job fair at their school this year peaked their interest in manufacturing. TyQuan Smoot and Ralland Brown, both 17 and in their senior year, said they are interested in joining the manufacturing field.

After taking a tour of Ohio Stamping on Friday, Brown said it seemed like a viable option for him, hoping to eventually become a skilled laborer.

220: Estimated number of companies taking part in Manufacturing Day in Ohio

58: Number of manufacturing open houses in the Dayton region

106: Number of students who toured Ohio Stamping and Machine in Springfield on Friday

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