Work force roundtable sparks good discussion
Employers in the area know it is difficult to find employees. It is even harder to find skilled workers.
A roundtable discussion held Tuesday at Eastern Gateway Community College featured school superintendents, representatives of EGCC and Franciscan University of Steubenville, a cross section of local businesses and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce centered on what can be done to train workers to fill the void in the workplace.
The goal was to begin working on a plan to get young people and the not -so-young trained in filling jobs which are in demand in the area.
Teenagers for generations have pondered what they want to do in life as an adult. It was simpler at times — go work in the mills or go to college. Just like the yesteryears, not every kid wants to go to college. But deciding on a career without a college education is difficult.
All the educators said the schools need to do a better job of preparing the work force of tomorrow.
Employers said getting workers is difficult.
The chamber of commerce is seeking ideas from the community on how to get trained workers. Ideas include mentoring students and having open houses for children and parents so they can get an idea of what goes on at a business and the type of workers needed.
It is a work in progress, but the community, including schools and businesses, must continue to offer input to the chamber.
Transportation also was noted as a barrier. Many children don’t have a vehicle needed to get to a job. Lack of reliable Internet also was mentioned at the roundtable. Students can’t take online courses without the Internet.
Parents lament the prospect of a child having to move out of the area for employment.
But there are still a lot of good jobs here. Manufacturing is making a comeback. The oil and gas industry is constantly getting bigger in the region. Those jobs pay a good wage.
There are many jobs that don’t require a college education, but those jobs need some sort of training.
It is the perfect opportunity for schools and EGCC to develop programs where a person can get a certificate in about six months.
The roundtable was a good start, and much needed. It is good that everyone is coming together to think about what is needed.
The worst-case scenario is a large employer overlooks the area because there aren’t enough workers.