Northeast Ohio is a powerhouse of manufacturing with nearly 10,000 highly concentrated manufacturing companies. But the region’s manufacturing sector faces a significant talent shortage, with an estimated 8,000 open jobs that on average provide salary and benefits totaling $70,000. To address this shortage, the Manufacturing and Advocacy Growth Network partnered with local manufacturers in 2020 to launch ACCESS to Manufacturing Careers, a three-week credential-based training program. During the first years of the program, participants received a weekly stipend. Beginning in January 2023, the stipend was changed to an hourly training wage. All participants receive career coaching during the training and for a year once employed. To date, more than half of participants have landed full-time manufacturing jobs.
Building on lessons learned from the ACCESS program, the project team will pilot and test an intervention that provides career training and wraparound services for those underrepresented in manufacturing, including formerly incarcerated people and unemployed young people ages 18 to 24. As part of the intervention, manufacturing employers will have an opportunity to connect to potential employees, inform the program curricula to match their hiring needs, and receive technical assistance with best practices for retaining employees. Researchers will scrutinize the program’s outcomes and the factors that might be driving previously observed retention disparities between Black and white workers. These findings will be informative for workforce-development service providers, industry intermediaries, and employers seeking to equitably diversify their workforces and retain employees.