As manufacturers have faced labor shortages in recent years, many have looked to attract populations that had been historically underrepresented in manufacturing: women, minorities and people with past involvement in the criminal justice system.
Successfully integrating these new employees into an existing company and labor force takes thoughtful preparation and intentional action on the part of employers. And it’s in these situations that a strong workforce agency or training program is the perfect bridge between manufacturers and potential employees.
In Cuyahoga County, and specifically in the ACCESS to Manufacturing Careers program, manufacturers and jobseekers are lucky to have the partnership of Towards Employment, a workforce development agency that connects people to careers that change lives.
Towards Employment occupies a unique and important place in the manufacturing talent landscape of Cuyahoga County. Since the inception of the idea in late 2019, Towards Employment has been involved in the design, piloting and execution of the ACCESS to Manufacturing Careers training program. This four-week training program for entry level jobs in manufacturing is uniquely focused on bringing forward underrepresented populations in manufacturing. Since the program’s inception, it has given special attention to attracting for second-chance hiring at companies motivated to do so.
Towards Employment has dedicated time and resources to work with these jobseekers on the essential skills and abilities they need for a career in manufacturing. In addition, a Towards Employment career coach continues to provide support to new hires to help ensure a successful transition, strong retention and position him/her for advancement within the company. With this insight into job seeker need/experience, Towards Employment was also able to educate manufacturers on the challenges and opportunities that many returning citizens bring to the table, as well as provide strategies to help those employers effectively deal with the challenges.
MarRay, an ACCESS student and graduate, illustrates Towards Employment’s effective and meaningful work. After being released from prison, MarRay completed ACCESS and was able to find employment with a local manufacturing company, which led to him achieving success in several different roles. Throughout his transition into employment and early months on the job, Towards Employment remained engaged with both MarRay and his employer to ensure continued success. When MarRay’s employer lost a big contract that would have impacted MarRay’s position, Towards Employment helped facilitate a solution beneficial to all parties. The staff at Towards Employment knew that another engaged employer, Diamond Metals, would be a great fit for MarRay, and that they had open roles to fill. MarRay is now employed at Diamond Metals and on track to continue his upward growth in his career in manufacturing.
MarRay’s story is just one example of how Towards Employment weaves employers’ needs with the goals and wellbeing of jobseekers. On a daily basis, the staff of Towards Employment work with individuals like MarRay and companies like Diamond Metals to make the ACCESS to Manufacturing Careers program successful.