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The Alliance For Working Together Breaks Ground On Transformation Center In Mentor, Ohio For Manufacturing Technology Training

Published Tuesday, August 24, 2021
by Kevin Barry/
The Alliance For Working Together Breaks Ground On Transformation Center In Mentor, Ohio For Manufacturing Technology Training

(MENTOR, OHIO) - Manufacturers around Mentor and the surrounding community are taking their own steps to create the next generation of well-trained Workers in Northeast Ohio with the skills to work in that industry in the future.

The Alliance for Working Together (AWT) is breaking ground on its roughly $3 million Transformation Center, a training facility they’ll use to help train Manufacturing Workers in the technology that they’ll need to know for the next generation of manufacturing jobs.

Much of the manufacturing industry relies on machines that are largely computerized.

The catch is companies often struggle to find Workers who know how to program those computers.

“A lot of people don’t understand that manufacturing is very high-tech, especially the way that we’re moving,” AWT Executive Director Juliana Petti said. “We need a blend of people who are the ‘Gray-Collar Workforce.’  They have technical skills but they work in offices too.”

Petti says Baby Boomer Workers are retiring, putting pressure on companies and younger Workers to train up quickly to replace older generations.

“We need to get to a point where the so-called ‘heavy work’ and lifting is being done by the machines that we put into place,” G&T Manufacturing Vice President Colin Cutts said.

That’s why G&T Manufacturing has already heavily invested in automated technology that not only saves Workers from doing routine and heavy lifting - but also frees up those Workers to operate multiple machines at once by handling repetitive tasks.

“Right now, it says it’s fifteen ahead because it’s unloading and loading,” said Cutts, looking at a computer screen that shows him how the machine is operating compared to predetermined metrics. “We can always continuously see if we’re running and hitting our targets.”

“Modern manufacturing is ninety-percent geared around what we do on a computer,” AWT Instructor and Curriculum Developer Matt Kulbis said. “Traditionally we’ve seen business have twenty-some operators and maybe one programmer for those twenty operators.  One of the things that especially small and mid-sized-manufacturers have not been able to do effectively is maintain the internal skills that they need to operate."

That disparity means there could be few Workers who know how to program computerized machinery, creating a backlog of work if that one Worker calls out sick, is on vacation, or leaves for another position.

The goal is to train more Workers on the necessary computer programming skills so more people can do that kind of work.

AWT’s website says it is “a small, informal group of manufacturers, who met to discuss topics of interest and best practices among local manufacturers.”

One of the biggest problems is finding Workers to fill open positions.

AWT's Apprentice Program allows companies to help their Employees gain new manufacturing skills so they can do more around the shop, advance in their careers, and earn more money.

“If you knock on any manufacturer’s door right now and ask what their biggest problem is, it’s going to be finding Workers,” says Spence Technologies President Sara Spence, who added companies often try to train up Workers so they know what they need but that’s also often limited.

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