As published in Toledo Business Journal - December 1, 2018

Area mfgs. targeting
workforce issues

Private sector leaders direct efforts
in selected areas of NW Ohio

The Northwest Ohio Manufacturing Alliance (NOMA), an industry sector partnership that includes JobsOhio – and the Regional Growth Partnership (RGP) – the Ohio Manufacturers Association (OMA), a number of area manufacturers, and others is working to address the workforce development needs in six counties in northwest Ohio, including Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Williams, and Wood County.

Industry Sector Partnership

According to NOMA, an industry sector partnership is a focused workforce development strategy, led by employers, that promotes collaboration among business, educational institutions, economic and workforce development entities, and community organizations. NOMA is led by area manufacturers to solve the workforce issues in the region, collectively as a group, including members Altenloh, Brinck & Co US; Betco; Sauder; Spangler Candy; and Rosenboom, among others.

An industry sector partnership is different than traditional workforce development programs, according to NOMA, for a number of reasons:

“Our mission is to educate and empower the next generation for careers in manufacturing,” said NOMA officials.

Lisa Wojtkowiak, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, senior talent, learning and development manager for Betco, a manufacturer of cleaning and maintenance products for cleaning, disinfecting, floor care, skin care, and industrial applications, and vice president of NOMA, said, “The skilled trades and semi-skilled trades workforce shortage has reached a point where manufacturers must work together to develop programs to address these issues.”

NOMA Vision

NOMA’s vision, according to the organization, is to influence educators and economic development and workforce groups towards common goals of “ready to work students” and “lifelong learners” through credentials, certifications, and curriculum development; be the regional voice of manufacturers with OMA and national organizations; enhance the image of manufacturing and the career opportunities available within it; and facilitate a seamless pathway from K-12 through adult and post-secondary education, preparing communities with the ever-changing skills needed in manufacturing.

“Our first priority is trying to help solve immediate workforce shortages by tapping into existing training programs that other sector partnerships have already developed that we can stand up with our local educational partners. One benefit early on is the collaboration that has already been developed from the NOMA founding companies. Looking ahead, we will be developing action teams to execute our priorities, such as career pathways; employer engagement / recruitment; marketing and outreach; pipeline development; and fund development,” said Wojtkowiak.

Key Benefits

According to NOMA, the benefits of the industry sector partnership to manufacturers include:

“Industry sector partnerships are a proven workforce development strategy that put employers in the driver’s seat and have demonstrated effectiveness across the country. Manufacturers within a regional labor market work together to influence alignment around common solutions with education and training, economic and workforce development, and community organizations,” said NOMA officials.

MVMC Model

Work done by the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition is being used as one of the models driving NOMA efforts.

“As an industry led coalition, we realize we need to have a single, common voice to create public awareness of the needs of the local manufacturing industry,” according to MVMC officials. “Our goal is to engage all area stakeholders and to work together as a cohesive group to address this workforce problem that we cannot solve individually.

“MVMC proposes to convene, educate, charge and mobilize the region’s key stakeholders to initiate actions that will stabilize our economy and provide opportunities for individuals and families in the Mahoning Valley to earn livable wages and advance up a career pathway. Further, this coalition will create a demand-driven mechanism for ongoing dialogue among industry, education, and the public workforce system.”

One of the efforts MVMC is employing involves the establishment of apprenticeships for interested manufacturing members. An apprenticeship is a work-based learning program that provides industry-specific training through a combination of hands-on-experience and classroom-based instruction, according to MVMC.

Apprentices obtain a paycheck while they are being trained and are mentored by experienced employees. They are often working with cutting-edge equipment and must pass proficiency tests to demonstrate skills.

NOMA Officers

The initial NOMA officers will be Kip Winzeler, president; Lisa Wojtkowiak, vice president; Laurie Schlosser, secretary; and Dee Meyer, treasurer.

“NOMA is currently accepting founding companies until the end of the first quarter in 2019 and is looking to have 10-15 companies listed as founding companies. Several other companies have joined as members and our first full membership meeting is January 24,” concluded Wojtkowiak.

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