By Olivera Perkins for Cleveland.com
A shortage of skilled workers in Northeast Ohio may have just as much to do with an image problem for manufacturing as a lack of training for potential employees.
The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, or MAGNET, is attempting to tackle both issues through its two-year apprenticeship program for high school students. Students in the Early College Early Career, or ECEC, program take tuition-free classes toward an advanced manufacturing and technology degree at area community colleges to learn the skills employers are demanding.
Through paid internships at local companies, the students see first-hand that many of the old stereotypes about manufacturing aren’t true.
Autumn Russell, ECEC’s executive director, said the program challenges longstanding notions that students either head to college after high school or into the workforce. Perhaps they’ll do both.
“We really want to create this paradigmatic shift in thinking, in redefining what success looks like for students,” she said. “Right now in our education system, all programs, all strategies, all initiatives are college prep.”