Manufacturing jobs: Butler County community colleges working to fill need for skilled workers

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Recent national studies are showing what area community colleges saw coming: Manufacturing jobs are going unfilled even as the coronavirus pandemic is waning.

And years-long expansions of career learning programs at area two-year colleges are taking on new urgency to fill that gap as illustrated by Dayton-based Sinclair Community Colleges recent $1.2 million enlargement of its industrial maintenance and technology lab at its campus in Mason.

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Enrollment projections for the coming school year are still being calculated but Sinclair, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, which has a campus in Middletown, and Miami University’s regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown are all seeing or anticipating higher enrollments this fall.

And area industries are hoping more potential employees flock to the schools for two-year associate degrees and shorter, job skill training and certification classes that put students quickly into local jobs.

“We have been putting our resources into addressing the need for skilled workers,” said Monica Posey, president of Cincinnati State. “Cincinnati State offers over a 100 different certificates and associate degrees ranging from business to engineering to IT. And we have hundreds of employers we connect with and work very hard with to design new courses and programs to address their needs for skilled workers.”

Those needs for more trained workers were already growing prior to the onset of coronavirus in March 2020.

And despite America’s recent rebounding economy, job fulfillment continues to lag for manufacturers, according to recent national survey released in May by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.

Surveyed U.S. manufacturers said finding the right talent is now 36% harder than it was in 2018, even though the unemployment rate has nearly doubled since.

Moreover, survey officials said while the manufacturing industry recouped 63% of jobs lost during the pandemic, the remaining 570,000 had not been added back by the end of 2020, despite a near record of job openings in the sector.

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Middletown’s Cincinnati State campus downtown continues to see strong enrollment growth with a nine percent jump compared to this time last year.

Launched in 2012 with 300 students and the campus has grown to serve 1,200 students last year through online and in-person courses. Additionally, the college serves hundreds of Butler County high school students annually through its College Credit Plus Program, and adults and employers through its Workforce Development Center.

Miami’s regional Hamilton and Middletown campuses have made historically large expansions of their job-readiness degree and certification programs in recent years, all designed to give students better employment and lives, said Miami officials.

“Miami Regionals are committed to supporting our community through offering access to an affordable high-quality education that promotes upward mobility,” said Ande Durojaiye, associate provost and dean of Miami University Regionals.

Miami officials report “96.7% of 2018-2019 graduates were employed or furthering their education within 6 months of graduating.”

New degrees and job certification programs have sprung from close partnerships with area industries.

Mark Hecquet, president & CEO of the Butler County Visitors Bureau, said Miami’s new Hospitality Management major is a good example of new employee feeder pipeline.

“The hospitality industry is an incredibly important economic driver for Butler County and the surrounding region accounting for over $1.3 billion dollars of economic impact annually. The continued success of the industry relies heavily on a strong and talented workforce.”

“The new Miami Regionals Hospitality Management Major will prepare students with the skills and training needed to be hospitality leaders today and community leaders in the future,” said Hecquet.

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