Secretary of Labor visits MAGNET partner and client, praises collaborative workforce initiative

U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez visited Cleveland-based manufacturer Great Lakes Towing Company on Monday, June 6th to recognize the company for its achievements in workforce and talent development.

A MAGNET partner company, the tugboat manufacturer was founded at the turn of the 20th century and boasts an impressive roster of past shareholders, including industrialist John D. Rockefeller, Cleveland titan Jeptha Wade, and members of the Hanna and Mather families.

The company was spotlighted for its participation in the Manufacturing Sector Partnership Project, a program that in part drives students toward a viable career in manufacturing through coursework, fast-track training and real-world experience. A collaborative effort between MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (an Ohio MEP affiliate), Cuyahoga Community College, and the Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board, the Sector Partnership Grant aims to significantly grow the existing pool of manufacturing candidates by providing required training to students. At the same time, the Sector Partnership Grant engages companies that need additional support in developing their workforce and defining their skill needs. The program also helps build a strong and consistent pipeline of skilled workers who are available to meet the growing demands of several industries in Northeast Ohio.

After touring the Great Lakes Shipyard, Perez also spoke with Dan and Don Ramos, twin brothers and welding students who were recently offered full-time employment with Great Lakes Towing as a result of the program. The Ramos brothers, who immigrated to the United States from the Philippines at a young age, said they found the programs to be beneficial because it would give them a chance at having a career – something their previous employers hadn’t provided.

According to MAGNET President and CEO Ethan Karp, it is anticipated that a large number of individuals will follow the same path in the near future.

“This innovative program marks a significant turning point in our workforce efforts in Northeast Ohio,” Karp said. “We are absolutely committed to working with our partners to identify common skills needed for manufacturing careers, and we hope to expand upon this best-practice model by incorporating more professions and ultimately growing the talent pipeline throughout the region.”

Representatives from six local companies including Kennametal, SSP Fittings, and Steel Warehouse participated in a round table discussion on the benefits of the Sector Partnership project and the value of fast-track training programs that fuel growth and address their workforce needs.

Photo: (L-R) Former MAGNET Workforce and Talent Development Executive Director Judith Crocker, U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, MAGNET President and CEO Ethan Karp, and Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board Executive Director Grace A. Kilbane

Posted by Liz Fox in News

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