Manufacturing Month hopes to inspire Butler County students as millions of workers needed in next decade

BUTLER COUNTY — Manufacturers had 408,000 job openings nationally in July — the most since February, before widespread COVID-19 restrictions came into effect.

And in the next decade, 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled, according to the Manufacturing Institute.

Those type of job openings is one of the reasons behind Manufacturing Month when area manufacturers introduce their businesses to what they hope will be the next generation of engineers, production workers, quality managers, accountants and technicians.

COVID-19 has forced this month’s student tours of manufacturers to be online. But the need to build the workforce of the future hasn’t changed, said Rick Pearce, president of the Chamber of Commerce serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton.

The chamber organized virtual tours, which began Friday and run through October, with six companies in its service area. About 1,300 students in 66 classes from Middletown, Madison, Monroe, Edgewood and Fenwick school districts will participate in the seventh annual program, he said.

“This give students a lot more opportunities,” Pearce said of the virtual tours. “After high school, if college is not in their future, this is another opportunity. It’s all about exposing them to what’s around."

Next month, the chamber will organize a similar event with local health care and long-term nursing facilities, Pearce said.

Instead of touring the facilities in person, the students will partake in virtual discussions with representatives from AK Steel, Pilot Chemical, Quaker Haughton, Crane Consumables, Deceuninck North America and Worthington Industries.

One goal is to dispel what Pearce says are the “four Ds” associated with manufacturing — dark, dirty, dingy and dangerous.

Sharon Drewry, human resources manager at Crane Consumables, said a four-year college degree isn’t for every student. For those looking for high-paying jobs after high school they should consider manufacturing, she said.

“There are a lot of opportunities,” she said. “We can train you.”

Helen Peyton, senior marketing manager for Deceuninck, an industry leading design, compounding, tooling, lamination, fiberglass pultrusion and PVC extrusion company located in Monroe, said her message to students and potential employees: Manufacturing offers an alternative career path.

“You can build a successful and lasting career in a wide range of positions that require diverse skills,” she said.

For example, you can start out as an extrusion specialist and progress with internal training and gain expertise to advance to managerial roles, she said.

Normally, throughout Butler County, the day involves dozens of school buses fanning out across the area to visit plants, labs and offices. Last year, more than 2,640 Manufacturing Day events were scheduled nationwide.

In Ohio, about 20 events are scheduled on the Manufacturing Institute’s Manufacturing Day web site, and 18 of those are virtual.

Facts about manufacturing

  • More than one in 10 Ohioans work in a manufacturing job.
  • The average annual earnings for Ohio workers in manufacturing: $58,800.
  • Manufacturing is the largest of 20 economic sectors in the state, contributing 17 percent of Ohio’s overall gross domestic product (GDP).

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