The road to a good job doesn’t always mean spending four years at college.
Ottawa County school officials and businesses are looking at forging a partnership to spread the word and job opportunities among students.
A proposed Ottawa County Business Council would guide schools in the endeavor to step up career counseling aimed at generating skilled workers for the jobs available locally, Benton-Carroll-Salem Schools superintendent Guy Parmigian told the school board Tuesday night.
The group would be comprised of people from schools, business, government and, likely, include students.
“We are looking at creating a workforce pipeline for area businesses,” Parmigian explained.
School officials from the area got a taste of those opportunities during a recent tour of manufacturing operations. A second bus tour focused on the service sector (such as hospitals and tourism) is being planned.
“There’s a lot of momentum out there and we want to capture that momentum,” Parmigian said.
The group would work closely with Chris Galvin of United Way and Jamie Beier-Grant, the director of the Ottawa County Community Improvement Corporation. “It’s about getting all of Ottawa County working together,” the superintendent said. “We are not going to meet just to meet but to create partnerships that are going to benefit our schools and students.”
The tour really opened some eyes, he said. “We realized the potential of substantial jobs here in Ottawa County. We don’t see that enough. And not all require college.”
Baby boomers are retiring and the skilled trade pool is dwindling, Parmigian said. “It really is an impediment to businesses that want to keep growing.”
Parmigian said an Adfilm owner revealed he has 10 openings he can’t fill. Adfilm is located in the Lakewinds Industrial Park off Ohio 163 in Salem Township.
Board member Steve Rhodes said local companies turn to “stealing” employees away from each other to fill their needs.
Welding is one of those highly sought after trades, Parmigian added.
Rhodes liked what the program might offer. Even teaching someone to read a micrometer for refrigeration could help steer someone in a whole new direction, he said.
Parmigian said he believes school officials have oversold the need to go to college to earn livable wage. Industrial arts programs were dissolved at many schools.
However, kids need some type of earlier exposure to those basic skills like using crescent wrenches, reading tape measures and getting their hands dirty.
“We as schools have kind of neglected it,” Parmigian said.
“Isn’t that why we have Penta (County Career Center) and Vanguard (Career Center),” asked board member Jeff Dornbusch.
Both programs are top notch and fulfill expanding student needs, Parmigian acknowledged. “But we really can’t rely on Penta and Vanguard to do it all,” he added.
Board member Kim Dusseau agreed. Some students opt not to go to the career centers because they don’t want to leave their home schools for a number of reasons, she said. The proposed council may open opportunities for that population.
Oak Harbor High School is making strides. In December, teachers coordinated a Manufacturing Awareness Day. Businesses such as Northern Manufacturing showed what they do and talked about the skills they are looking for in new workers, Parmigian said.
“They were saying ‘this is what we have, get ready,’ ” Parmigian said.