Blog posts from March, 2012

MAGNET helps students learn about manufacturing and engineering jobs

March 21, 2012 by MAGNET Ohio

By Judith Crocker, Director of Education & Training Judith Crocker, Director of Education & Training, MAGNET   Recently, a select group of students from Beaumont High School in Cleveland, Ohio had the opportunity to visit a couple local manufacturing companies to learn more about the field of advanced manufacturing and the role that science, engineering, and math play in manufacturing in Northeast Ohio. "My female students got to hear from professional women about their experiences in engineering," says Beaumont Schools teacher Lauren Brandon. "They gained invaluable insights into the challenges and rewards of an engineering career." Manufacturing and engineering careers are growing and in demand now more than ever.  It is important for educators and students to learn what today’s manufacturing is really all about and the opportunities in fields such as engineering that are available in this growing industry. Many regional manufacturers are willing to open their doors to students to provide tours to students. If students don’t have the opportunity to visit manufacturers, there are additional ways for them to learn. MAGNET, through the career awareness program, offered in partnership with WVIZ  and the Northern Ohio Technology Association, reaches as many as 300 students each program. Programs are

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Case Western survey reveals good side and ugly side of automotive supply chain

March 20, 2012 by MAGNET Ohio

By Susan R. Helper and Tim Krueger America’s automotive supply chain is a vital organ of our country’s economic engine, employing about 578,500 workers.  The lower tiers of the supply chain alone account for 30% of U.S. auto industry employment. In 2008 and 2009, when fear of an auto industry collapse was palpable, the fate of the supply chain was a major concern both because of the number of American jobs it supports and because a problem in one small part of the supply chain can send disastrous ripple effects through the entire industry.  Given its importance, our team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University set out to study the health of America’s automotive supply chain.  We sought to gain a better understanding of the industry’s problems, and their solutions. Our study was funded by the federal Department of Labor, and we are grateful to MAGNET, the Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network, for their collaboration as well. In a nutshell, the results of our study show that not all automotive suppliers are equal.  In fact, even firms with similar core competencies, supplying similar products for similar prices, adopt entirely different business strategies.  What’s more, it turns out that different

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As economy heats up, motor vehicle supply chain faces new challenges and opportunities

March 19, 2012 by MAGNET Ohio

The Wall Steet Journal recently reported that the surge in consumer borrowing is primarily due to auto and student loans—two factors that bode well for the auto industry (Consumers Ramped Up Borrowing in January, by Neil Shah, Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2012). The average car on U.S. roads is now a record 10.8 years old. More people buying cars gives more solid evidence to a rebounding auto industry. More people returning to school, could lead to more skilled workers for advanced manufacturing positions that are going unfilled. Ohio is experiencing both of these phenomena even as the unemployment rate continues to go down. The PNC National Economic Outlook for March reported "there was a big jump of 6.8 percent in output of motor vehicles and parts in January, consistent with stronger sales; this was on top of a 3.8 percent gain in December (revised up from 0.6 percent). Auto manufacturers have boosted production as demand has picked up. This is also spurring hiring in manufacturing, and broader economic recovery, especially in the Midwest." For the past several months, in Ohio, we’ve been seeing headlines that confirm what appears to be a recovery in the auto industry. Headlines like: Ford

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Jobs for Veterans Program Makes Progress

March 15, 2012 by MAGNET Ohio

Last July, MAGNET launched a unique pilot project to help connect returning U.S. veterans with manufacturing jobs in Northeast Ohio. "There are many jobs at manufacturing companies in Northeast Ohio that are still unfilled even with today’s high unemployment rate," noted MAGNET President and CEO Dan Berry at the time. "These unfilled jobs typically require technical skills and competencies not widely found in the general unemployed population. Our belief is that many returning veterans have some of the core technical skills that can meet the needs of manufacturers in the region." MAGNET’s goal was to identify, train and match returning veterans with existing jobs at area manufacturing companies that are unfilled due to a lack of appropriately skilled applicants. To accomplish this, MAGNET partnered with the Veterans’ Services group of the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services (ODJFS). Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration MAGNET and ODJFS began the pilot project with two well-attended informational sessions for manufacturers on July 19 and July 28, 2011. Becky Kemp, MAGNET Senior Workforce Development Consultant, reports that eight months later, 57 veterans have undergone the skills testing process to determine their job skills and

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The Beta Space Resource for Entrepreneurs Plans May 2012 Launch

March 14, 2012 by MAGNET Ohio

Here at The Incubator at MAGNET we’re busy getting ready for the launch of a new regional resource called The Beta Space that has two main purposes: Provide a landing space for college/graduate entrepreneurs once they outgrown their dorm room or graduate from college. Provide regional access to a portfolio of financial, legal and marketing service providers who will offer pro bono consultations in their subject-matter areas. We are targeting the beginning of May for a soft launch of the program for companies currently housed in The Incubator at MAGNET and a summer roll out to all the region’s manufacturing-oriented technology entrepreneurs and SMBs. How to Participate The Beta Space has multiple opportunities to participate. Here’s a quick overview of the audiences we are targeting and the value we hope to offer. Student Entrepreneurs: Our primary audience for the bulk of the space is student entrepreneurs. Officials at the Burton D. Morgan Foundation told us that while students feel comfortable starting businesses while on campus, once they graduate they feel somewhat adrift and unconnected. They may have heard about all this great assistance available in the region, but they’re not quite sure how to get plugged in. The Beta Space

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Addressing Manufacturing Workforce Challenges: Our Future In Peril

March 12, 2012 by MAGNET Ohio

By Dan Berry, President and CEO, MAGNET Few conversations we here at MAGNET have with manufacturers about their operating challenges get very far without workforce considerations emerging as a central problem.  Unfortunately, we have learned that there are multiple dimensions to these challenges and that no single solution will fix them. At one level, primarily among those companies looking for moderately skilled entry level workers, we often hear these sentiments.  "We’ll train them.  Just give us individuals who have basic reading, writing and math skills, who understand what it means to work, that show up every day on time, can follow directions, work as a member of a team and can pass a drug test. " Here is another refrain we often hear:  "The average age in my skilled workforce is 55 plus.  I am going to lose all my (insert machinists, welders, etc.) over the next several years and there is no source of replacements in sight." Other companies talk about the difficulty they’re having with finding highly skilled talent, often in various engineering disciplines. So, the range of workforce challenges runs the gamut of education in the U.S. from what’s necessary in K-12 education to build the foundation

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Mentoring my son FIRST Robotics team was a learning experience for all!

March 07, 2012 by MAGNET Ohio

My son, Johnathan, is a senior at Avon Lake High School, and a founding member of the school’s new Robotics Club. For the club’s first project, he and his friends decided to enter the Buckeye Regional FIRST Robotics Competition which will be held March 22-24, 2012 at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center in downtown Cleveland. This is the first time Avon Lake HS has ever entered such a competition and they’ll be going up against 60 high school teams from Ohio, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ontario, Canada. So how could I help but volunteer to be one of the mentors for the team?! It turned out to be an amazing experience for me and the kids. "At first, I thought there might be only eight people interested in joining the team," Johnathan says. "Instead, at our first meeting, 30 students showed up! So instead of working just as a designer, I spent a lot more time learning about organizing and managing the team." Avon Lake High School Robotics Club 2012 -- The Shorebots   Our team (FIRST Team 4142, aka "The ShoreBots") had its kick-off meeting on January 7, 2012, when this year’s competition challenge, "Rebound Rumble," was revealed.

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