A-Tech, We-Tech

Ohio company opens its lab to the public to help workforce

A Jefferson Township, Ohio company is opening up its maintenance lab to the public.

A-Tech’s adult skill training offerings are expanding, as the campus’ industrial maintenance lab opens to the public this year — at a time when local and regional employers struggle to fill even entry-level skilled positions from within the county, the Star Beacon of Ashtabula, Ohio reported Wednesday.

Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus is now offering “intense” 300-hour, 36-week courses in its Industrial Maintenance Pathway Ashtabula County Lab — also referred to as the IMPAC lab — as part of its 2018-19 adult workforce development curriculum. The lab offers basic to high-level, hands-on training in electrical, fluid power and mechanical maintenance fields through specially designed troubleshooting and virtual computer devices.

“It is fast-paced. It’s intense training. There is a lot to it,” Ken Porter, the campus’ workforce development coordinator told the Star Beacon. “This one’s unique in that it’s all on the preventive side and troubleshooting side.”

Tuition is $9,350 for the nine-month course, which would be set for 6-10:15 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays starting Sept. 5. Adult training orientation days are set for 5:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays from June 27 to Aug. 15 in A-Tech’s A Complex, Room 104. To register, call the campus at (440) 576-6015, options 4-2-2.

Private loans will be available and federal loans could be available for 2019-2020, as federal lenders require the program to be in place for one year.

According to A-Tech’s 2018-19 class brochure, the lab’s hands-on trainers are available for the following skills:

• Basic electrical machines

• DC generators

• Electric motor control

• Relay controls

• Hydraulics and troubleshooting

• Pneumatics and troubleshooting

• Siemens programmable logic controllers

• Mechanical drives

• Centrifugal pumps

Northeast Ohio job openings requiring these skills are only expected to grow in the coming years, according to a report released this month by Team NEO, a JobsOhio affiliate.

The report, which evaluated the state’s 18 northeastern counties, projected the manufacturing sector would demand more than 5,200 installation, maintenance and repair workers in 2016, and about 3,600 of those positions were entry-level. But only a little more than 1,600 people obtained some type of post-secondary qualification for those jobs the year prior.

“These statistics demonstrate a misalignment between supply and demand, with significantly higher demand for entry-level qualified manufacturing maintenance workers than there is a supply of the same,” Craig Sernik, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Council of Governments Area 19 Workforce Development Board wrote Wednesday in an email to the Star Beacon.

“This trend continues through 2018, and is projected to continue well into the future

for these types of

positions of employment,” he said.

According to the report, installation maintenance and repair was projected for high growth from 2016 to 2021 and is expected to be in the top third of total jobs by 2021. The report also estimated the median annual wage for those positions at about $40,800.

“These jobs are not only in high demand, but they are also with employers that pay significant wages and benefits, thereby allowing the individual to earn self-sufficient wages that will support a family,” Sernik wrote. “This program is exactly the type of post-secondary education that OhioMeansJobs Ashtabula is interested in supporting and seeing flourish.”

When the lab first opened, it trained employees from 13 partner companies — which identified Ashtabula County’s top 10 industrial workforce needs and offered lab trainers — with a public opening planned after the first few years, Porter said.

“These are specialized areas. They’re not traditional maintenance-type programs. A lot of times, companies will have to go out of the county to bring someone in to troubleshoot. That’s expensive and it raises cost of production, and it’s a ‘domino’ effect throughout the county,” he said.

Though A-Tech doesn’t have a

dedicated job placement department, area companies regularly email new job openings to coordinators — sometimes before they’re even made public — who pass those along to current students and completed students who have yet to find work, Porter said.

“What we’re hoping to accomplish, specifically in this area … (is) to have a pool of trained people available. Right now, there’s not a hiring pool of skilled workers in this area,” he said.

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