Building ‘steelworkers for the future’

West Virginia’s next generation of steelworkers will learn the trade at Eastern Gateway Community College in Steubenville, Ohio, and at West Virginia Northern Community College‘s Weirton campus, AP reports.

ArcelorMittal worked with United Steelworkers Local 2911 to design the  Steelworkers for the Future program. Nearly half the Weirton workforce is nearing retirement.

In the old days, the children of steelworkers were waiting in the wings, enrolled in four- to six-year apprenticeships and waiting to assume their parents’ and grandparents’ jobs in the mills. But as the changing global economy forced U.S. steelmakers to shut down or consolidate, the industry shed tens of thousands of jobs, and more than 40 companies went bankrupt. Most shut down for good.

As that happened, Weirton lost what had been its traditional pool of replacement workers — its employees’ children. Now, the average age of the Weirton worker is 58.

Once the Baby Boomers retire,steel and manufacturing with be high-demand occupations, said J. Michael Koon, vice president of economic and work force development at West Virginia Northern.

Through classes and on-the-job training, students will earn an associate of applied sciences degree in electromechanical technology or  mechatronics.

. . . students will learn skills such as basic electricity, hydraulics and pneumatics, programmable controls, motors and motor controls, instrumentation and machine maintenance. They will also learn about communication, computers, teamwork and problem-solving.

Those hired by ArcelorMittal will start at $17.39 per hour, plus benefits.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON April 11, 2011

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