Manufacturers are hiring again — and paying up to $25 per hour — but they’re having trouble finding enough new workers with high-tech skills, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer.
With an aging workforce, MAG Industrial Automation, a manufacturer of high-tech machine tools, has revived an old apprenticeship program to train field-service technicians capable of setting up equipment in a customer’s plant and diagnosing problems.
In northern Kentucky, Gateway Community and Technical College opened a $26 million Center for Advanced Manufacturing to meet the demand for skilled workers. The center offers degrees and certificates, including a multidisciplinary manufacturing approach called mechatronics.
The concept is that, rather than learning individual disciplines such as mechanical, electrical and computer engineering, students start with a broader view of the manufacturing process and learn how to solve problems as they occur.
Using hands-on modules, students in the center’s integrated manufacturing center learn how to diagnose and fix problems introduced by the instructor.
Manufacturing isn’t for clock punchers who do what they’re told without thinking, says Scott Ellsworth, vice president of Tipco Punch, a 30-employee metal-working shop in Hamilton. “Today, we want employees who can solve problems and can work and communicate with their peers.”
Brad Oswald, 25, didn’t consider a manufacturing career or college until he visited MAG’s plant and saw the high-tech fighters and wind turbines that its machine tools produce.
“It’s pretty neat,” says Oswald, who works 40 hours a week at MAG and goes to school four nights a week at Gateway Community and Technical College as part of his apprenticeship to become a machine tool assembly technician.
Oswald may pursue an engineering degree when he completes his apprenticeship. MAG needs engineers too.