VERSAILLES--School district superintendents from two states, four counties, and twelve different school districts came together recently to meet with area business as a part of Darke County’s workforce development initiative. The effort is led by the county’s collaborative economic development effort known as Partnering for Progress (P4P). Both Midmark Corporation in Versailles and New Bremen-based Crown Equipment Corporation, two of West Central Ohio’s largest employers, participated in the unique all-day event. According to officials, the companies were asked to do far more than is usually part of a standard manufacturing facility tour.
“We asked the companies to make direct connections between the work the school officials saw on the floors of these plants to the skills it takes to execute those jobs and the career paths that exist for the individuals who excel in those positions,” explained Darke County Economic Development Director Marc Saluk. “In short, to really draw a line between these positions and the opportunities for the emerging workforce that lay beyond them.”
According to Saluk, creating awareness about the jobs and opportunities that exist in the manufacturing sector in Darke County, as well as much of the rest of West Central Ohio, is a fundamental piece of the P4P workforce development initiative. That process, he explains, doesn’t necessarily start with the students as it has in prior efforts-- it starts at the top of the school districts with the superintendents.
“This thought process came from the companies themselves,” explained Dave Peltz, Director of the Greenville Technical Education Center. “There was a near-universal consensus among manufacturers that there would be a greater benefit to our efforts in the long run if educators first had a better understanding of the landscape of modern manufacturing. They made us realize that we needed a top down approach to really connect education and business in an attempt to fully show and to realize the opportunities that exist.”
At Midmark, the company’s HR team interspersed several roundtable discussions and learning opportunities with time in the production area. School officials were divided into small teams when in these areas to encourage questioning and feedback. The Midmark team also spent considerable time discussing career opportunities for students upon graduation and a number of potential projects that could allow more students to get work experience while still in school.
At Crown, the superintendents were treated to lunch before beginning their interactive tour through the company’s three main production plants while learning about the multitude of job titles and specific employment needs of the area’s largest employer.
Partnering for Progress officials state that the manufacturing awareness portion of the county’s workforce development effort is scheduled to continue perpetually with plans to continually expose educators, students, and parents alike to the opportunities in modern manufacturing.
|Karl Weidner, VP of Manufacturing for Midmark Corporation, discusses the company’s manufacturing processes and the skills involved with local educators|