FutureMaker Showcase a celebration of local industry
Collaborative effort addressing aging workforce
By SARAH ROSS
Erie County Economic Development Corp.
Output from the manufacturing industry in Erie County accounts for $1.6 billion or 37 percent of our county’s Gross Regional Product. We have always been a community of makers who invent, design, build; but Erie County has a problem encroaching. There is a distinctive gap between the manufacturing workers set to retire in the next 10 to 15 years and the number of youth joining the industry.
Last year, a national survey by the Manufacturing Institute found 67 percent of participating manufacturers were experiencing a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers. 79 percent of local businesses currently report a difficulty finding qualified workers*, which will only be exacerbated by the retirement of the Baby Boomers and Generation X. Despite innovative advancements and considerable opportunity, manufacturing still battles with outdated perceptions of menial jobs in dirty environments. Today’s reality is a growing industry with technologically demanding positions, like machinists who use 3D software to model products, engineers who manipulate elements to create material, or technicians who automate assembly with robotics. These positions also cross all industries, powering roller coasters at Cedar Point or equipment in your neighbor
Renewing interest in STEM and manufacturing as viable career paths will require a systematic effort. For the last several years, economic development, education and workforce development organizations in Erie, Huron, Ottawa, Sandusky and Seneca Counties have partnered on a number of initiatives to celebrate Ohio’s Manufacturing Month and provide exposure for this important industry, including public plant tours, youth career showcases and roundtables with education and industry leadership.
This year, Erie County Economic Development Corporation, EHOVE Career Center and Huron County Development Council will again be partnering to host the third annual FutureMaker Career Showcase. The FutureMaker Showcase is a celebration of local industry. The interactive event provides area ninth graders a chance to meet local employers and participate in hands-on activities showcasing the mechanical and technical abilities needed to succeed in industrial related employment. The goal of the FutureMaker Showcase is to expand knowledge about and improve public perception of industry careers and their value to the economy. Since 2016, The FutureMaker Showcase has reached over 1,000 students and 25 employers each year.
“A factory job is not working in the dungeon. It’s working with modern technology. It’s meaningful work,” said J
im Springer, vice president and CFO of Industrial Nut Corporation. “Our employees are contributing and they’re valued.”
The two-day FutureMaker Showcase demonstrates this to our local students and the public. This year’s event will take place Oct. 11-12 at EHOVE Career Center.
For information, or to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
*(2017 ECEDC BEAR program outreach; 53 companies with greater than 25 employees.)
Sarah Ross is program manager for the Erie County Economic Development Corp., eriecountyedc.org, 419-627-7794.