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ECEC: Revitalizing STEM education, growing our manufacturing companies, and strengthening our communities.

MAGNET’s Early College, Early Career (ECEC) Program

A different kind of youth apprenticeship program.
The first of its kind nationally.

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Today, a critical question faces Northeast Ohio: How do we as a community help high school students access high-demand careers, a more affordable pathway to college, and gain the high-demand skills that lead to successful careers?

With 3,000 openings in advanced manufacturing in our region, MAGNET is answering this question through this revolutionary youth apprenticeship program. ECEC has four essential objectives:
  1. Raise awareness about manufacturing careers, especially among inner-city youth
  2. Develop successful pathways for students that combine education and work into a long-term, lucrative career
  3. Produce more skilled workers for our region’s workforce
  4. Reinforce and grow connections between manufacturing businesses and the Cleveland community
ECEC is an innovative approach to workforce development and revitalizing STEM education. First, since this is driven by employers, we are developing new partnerships between companies, high schools, and community colleges that have never existed before. Second, we’ve created ECEC with inclusion and diversity in mind. MAGNET provides all the support services, including transportation and mentoring, that the students need to start their careers in manufacturing.


How does it work?

Local employers hire high school juniors and seniors for paid, on-site work for 1-2 days per week over a two-year period. Plant managers and technicians train students on various skills like CNC machining and welding. MAGNET provides mentorship and guidance to help students develop soft skills like critical thinking, teamwork, and a strong work ethic. Students selected for ECEC will not only receive training, hourly wages, manufacturing certification(s), and college credit; they will gain a competitive edge with new skills and better work experience that can lead to multiple job offers and a rewarding, sustainable career in manufacturing.

Based on job performance, the company can then extend a job offer to the student after he/she graduates from high school. This can include full or part-time employment, along with tuition reimbursement programs, creating a clear, subsidized path to college.
ECEC empowers manufacturers in Northeast Ohio to develop their own workforce and create a sustainable pipeline that helps their companies grow locally, compete globally, and contribute to our region’s vitality.

Every day, ECEC is:
  • Opening doors to college and careers for high school students
  • Bringing economic opportunity to low-income neighborhoods
  • Providing a long-term solution to ongoing workforce demands in Northeast Ohio manufacturing
  • Increasing in high school graduation rates
  • Driving more investment in local businesses
  • Improving employee retention
  • Building new bridges between employers, community colleges, high schools, and their communities
And more...

How does ECEC improve communities in Northeast Ohio?

Too many young people simply aren’t exposed to the rewarding, lucrative careers available to them in advanced manufacturing. These jobs, starting at $40,000 annually and rapidly increasing from there, require short-term training but not the expense or commitment of four-year college. Every ECEC employer offers tuition reimbursement programs, so ECEC graduates have a clear, subsidized pathway to continuing their education after high school.

As we build and expand this program, ECEC students will have higher employment rates, better starting salaries, and more successful long-term careers than their peers. In many cases, these students will be the first in their families to go to college, ending the cycle of poverty. Local communities with the ECEC program will prosper, as they will have more middle-class employment, growing manufacturing companies, more stable families, and more paths to success for young people entering the workforce.

Why should my company join?

ECEC is designed to fill your long-term workforce pipeline in an easy, cost-efficient manner. Advantages to participating in ECEC include:
  • Higher employee retention and a long-term pipeline of workers
  • A young, skilled workforce already familiar with your company and its operations
  • A steady pipeline of people year after year
  • Investment in your local community and school systems
You will work directly with MAGNET’s team to design a custom training program to suit the needs of your company. You will then interview, select, and hire students for two-year internships. Students selected for the program will apprentice at least one day per week with your staff on the shop floor and learn how to function in a manufacturing environment— all while earning college credit. MAGNET provides almost everything else, from soft skills training to transportation. We’ll work with the high schools, provide transportation to/from your plant, provide mentoring outside the plant, educate ECEC interns through college-level manufacturing classes (courtesy of our community college partners), and much more. Based on their performance in your factory, you can offer the student(s) a job offer after they graduate from high school. This can include full- or part-time employment.

Through ECEC, you can improve your recruitment and retention, while investing in the future of your company and community.

Who is participating?

ECEC can be found at nine high schools across three counties.
Manufacturers who participate in ECEC can solve their workforce challenges by creating a steady, sustainable pipeline of skilled workers. This can also lead to higher retention rates, better quality of job applicants, and improved employee engagement. Currently, ECEC is partnering with eight companies: Lincoln Electric, Heisler Tool, Nordson Corporation, Cutting Dynamics, Parker Hannifin, Swagelok, Bevcorp, and NN Inc.

Want to learn more about ECEC?

Contact ECEC's Recruitment Manager, Valen Willis, at to start the conversation!

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1763558. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

MAGNET is focused on scalable solutions that engage communities and manufacturers. By unlocking the full potential of students and unemployed adults, workforce development programs will economically transform Northeast Ohio neighborhoods by bringing high-paying, skilled employment to residents.

Ethan Karp, CEO, MAGNET