Group spotlights programs

111516....R APPRENTICE 1...Newton Falls...11-15-16... Apprentice Eric Bland of Cortland works on a vertical mill at Quality Switch, R. Michael Semple

WARREN — The Greater Oh-Penn Manufacturing Apprenticeship Network on Monday kicked off its weeklong observation of National Apprenticeship Week with programs in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Locally, Jeremy Sewell, vice president of Quality Switch in Newton Falls, along with Bob Liddle, skilled trades coordinator at Trumbull Career and Technical Center, highlighted the importance of apprenticeships during a discussion at the company’s Arlington Blvd. manufacturing facility.

“Apprenticeships are experiencing a modern renaissance in America because the earn-while-learn model is a win-win proposition for workers looking to punch their ticket to the middle-class and for employers looking to grow and thrive in our modern global economy,” stated U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.

The U.S. Department of Labor declared this week National Apprenticeship Awareness Week. In Ohio, there are more than 1,100 registered apprenticeship programs, according to the state Department of Job and Family Services. They provide training in a variety of areas including aerospace, construction, energy, health care, manufacturing and utilities.

The first White House Summit on Apprenticeships was held in September 2015 in Washington, D.C. Among the attendees were employers, unions leaders, community college representatives and individuals from other organizations who have committed to growing the apprenticeship movement in their communities.

Soon after, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there are a record 5.8 million job openings nationwide, requiring training efforts that will allow workers to fill those positions. To address the need, President Barack Obama announced a goal of doubling the number of apprenticeships within a five-year span to meet the demand expected by 2020.

In 2015, there were 313 National Apprenticeship Week events across 47 states with 58 proclamations. Also last year, nearly $90 million in apprenticeship grants was awarded to various apprenticeship facilitators through the labor department.

Oh-Penn, an apprenticeship grant awardee, launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of apprenticeship growth. Each day this week the network is creating and releasing a video featuring an area employer or apprentice to give them an opportunity to share their apprenticeship experiences.

The videos are generated from employers in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The social media campaign can be followed on the Industry Needs You Facebook page.

“This is a chance for our early adopters to share what value apprenticeships have for their company specifically,” said Oh-Penn’s project manager Jessica Borza. “These videos not only spread awareness, but can help other employers see how the apprenticeship program will work for them.”

On Monday, Industrial Sales and Manufacturing in Erie, Pa. also hosted an Oh-Penn apprenticeship event.

Oh-Penn, formed in 2015, spans across 14 counties: Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Portage, Geauga and Ashtabula in Ohio and Mercer, Lawrence, Erie, Crawford, Venango, Clarion, Warren and Forest in Pennsylvania.

The Oh-Penn region has 2,833 manufacturing openings annually, the network reported. In addition, 6,686 adults over age 55 will retire from the industry within the next 10 years, officials said. To help train manufacturing workers needed across the network’s 14 counties, the labor department awarded Oh-Penn a $3 million grant focused on building local manufacturing apprenticeship programs.