Last Friday was National Manufacturing Day. How did you celebrate?
If you are like 1 of every 8 working Ohioans, you celebrated by going to your job in the manufacturing sector.
Despite continuous claims to the contrary, “all the good manufacturing jobs” have not gone overseas nor been lost to automation.
Hundreds of thousands of high-paying manufacturing jobs exist in Ohio, many in our backyard. Some of the companies employing those workers were celebrated at the grand opening Friday of the Innovation and Growth Center in downtown Canton.
As Canton Repository business writer Edd Pritchard reported, the center is a collaboration of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, Cleveland-based MAGNET (the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network) and Ohio’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
The National Association of Manufacturers says manufacturing businesses created $108 billion in economic output (2017 data), a figure representing about 17% of the state’s overall economy. Ohio manufacturers were responsible for roughly $50 billion in exports.
Thousands of manufacturing jobs exist in Ohio in such traditional sectors as auto, steel and plastics and rubber. Other sectors, perhaps not as obvious, like chemicals and food and beverage production, also continue to flourish.
But keeping pace with other states also seeking to attract the manufacturing companies and their jobs with living wages will require more collaboration and continuous job training.
A study Ball State University released this summer — its Manufacturing Scorecard 2019 — reiterated a concern many have expressed locally: Future growth in the manufacturing sector will depend on workforce development.
The scorecard gave Ohio a “B” grade on the overall health of its manufacturing sector. Among the areas holding back Ohio from joining four other Midwest states (there are only five nationally) to earn an “A” is the state’s weakness — a “C” grade — in “human capital.” That’s the study’s gauge of the labor force’s preparedness to adapt to technology changes happening now and anticipated in the future.
JobsOhio, the state’s private, nonprofit corporation whose stated mission is “to drive job creation and new capital investment in Ohio through business attraction, retention and expansion,” sees additive manufacturing, automation, advanced materials and other new technologies as the state’s next frontier. It, too, is looking at ways to address workforce challenges to meet these demands and evolving opportunities.
When partners work together, we can attract and retain jobs in Ohio. We are aided by our transportation network, which ranks among the most extensive in the country, and our lower costs of doing business, among other advantages.
Ohio’s manufacturing workforce is the third largest in the country, so the next time you hear someone lament that “all the good jobs have gone to China” (or Mexico), set them straight.
Manufacturing is alive and well here, and with joint efforts and initiatives focused on workforce development can remain so for years to come.