Community college training connects candidates with manufacturers

Manufacturing today emphasizes automation. It’s how companies are keeping pace with competitors that have lower labor costs. But it’s raised the bar for candidates looking to get into the industry, and made finding qualified candidates a challenge for employers.

Smart Business spoke with Michael White, program manager of advanced manufacturing at Cuyahoga Community College’s Workforce, Community and Economic Development Division, about the needs of today’s manufacturers and how community colleges are connecting candidates and employers.

What skills are needed for candidates to work in the modern manufacturing sector?
Candidates need to be tech savvy. Much of their job now entails interfacing with computers and reacting quickly to change. They’ve got to have the ability to trouble shoot problems and work in a team environment, which means getting along with others.

Much of the labor is done with machines now, so the jobs aren’t as physical — there’s not as much lifting, pushing and carrying as there had been. Rather, there’s more measuring and recording, following standard procedures, communicating ideas to others. That puts knowledge at a premium.

Candidates need to understand equipment, such as CNC machines — how to mount tools, call up and run programs, inspect the parts, and generally interface with automation. There’s some handwork, but today’s jobs are more about directing the equipment what to do.

There’s also a need on the repair side — the people who maintain and repair equipment in factories. They need technical knowledge of hydraulics, pneumatics and electricity; the ability to work with tools; and an understanding of computers, sensors, and all the controls that keep the machines moving.

Teamwork skills are far more valuable now because everyone is working in teams. And troubleshooting skills, along with the ability to quickly react to change, are also important.

How can candidates acquire the necessary skills to compete for today’s jobs?
Those who have the potential, but not the skills, can be trained on the particulars.

There are different entry points in manufacturing. With just a basic understanding of math, someone with no machining background can take 180 hours of training to get the basic knowledge, then move on to an eight-week training internship with an on-the-job trainer and qualify for an entry-level position.

Community colleges are a good place to learn the skills needed to get into the industry. There are short-term certification and two-year degree programs that can provide people with the training they need to qualify for in-demand jobs.

Community colleges are interested in getting people into jobs, not just getting them through training. They’re always looking at combining training with an internship or a job at the end.

What can companies do to create a pipeline of candidates to fill open positions?
Companies should get involved with community colleges by taking a seat on an advisory committee or talking with a workforce development unit to see what can be done to gear a program toward a particular need.

These relationships help companies create a pipeline of qualified candidates. As the manufacturing workforce continues to retire in greater numbers, companies are realizing the importance of having a succession plan to fill holes and ensure valuable knowledge is transferred.

Companies aren’t likely to find candidates with all the skills they want. It takes a combination of outside and in-house training to get candidates up to speed on a company’s particular equipment and processes. So it pays to work in partnership with community colleges to create a training program that fills the pipeline with candidates who are prepared to work with a company’s specific equipment.

Manufacturing is a great career for those with a real interest in jobs with good pay and great benefits doing work that requires equal parts brains and hands. Community colleges can be the link that connects job candidates and employers so everyone gets what they need.

Insights Education is brought to you by Cuyahoga Community College.

The transportation and logistics industry sees increased demand

The demand for truck drivers continues to rise. The reported national shortage of 175,000 CDL drivers expected by 2024 has been brought on by two factors.

One factor is the number of baby boomers retiring, which is not expected to slow down. Second, with the continued growth in the economy and the number of other job opportunities that are available to job seekers, CDL driving positions are just one of many career choices available.

There also is demand for other positions in the logistics and distribution profession. Some of that demand is being spurred by Amazon and its growing warehouse presence. And though autonomous vehicles are becoming a reality, they’ll need support from human drivers to get the goods to their local destinations.

Smart Business spoke with Ian Wilson, director of the Transportation Center at Cuyahoga Community College, about the outlook for the transportation and logistics industry.

What is the expected demand for truck drivers over the next five years?
Demand in the transportation and logistics industry will only increase as retirements continue to create openings. At this point, there are more job opportunities within the transportation, distribution and logistics industry than there are trained individuals to take them.

Product demand drives everything. The more demand for products, the more people will be required to transport both raw materials to manufacturers and finished products to retailers. Most products and materials coming into the country make it to their final destination via truck. In addition to drivers hauling both raw materials and finished goods, the industry will still require professionals to coordinate pickup and delivery, and load trucks to satisfy consumer demand.

What impact has Amazon had on the demand for truck drivers?
Amazon is expected to make a significant difference to employment within the transportation, distribution and logistics industry as the company continues to grow. The biggest impact locally is from the introduction of the two new Amazon fulfillment centers, one at the abandoned Randall Park Mall and a second in Euclid.

The Randall Park location alone is projected to add 2,000 jobs in the transportation, distribution and logistics fields. These two locations will need more than just CDL drivers. It will also require warehouse and supply chain professionals.

How might autonomous vehicles affect the trucking and logistics industry?
Autonomous vehicles aren’t yet capable of navigating local roadways to deliver beverages to supermarkets or fuel to gas stations. That still takes human drivers.

Though an effect on local deliveries is still out of sight, there will likely be an impact soon on the long-distance aspect of the industry, where autonomous trucks could manage the highways without a human driver. And even when that becomes a reality, there will still be a need for a vast amount of drivers in the cities to distribute the goods to their final destination.

Filling the workforce demand requires training for drivers, warehouse workers and forklift operators. The industry has a lifetime of opportunities for advancement, from driver to logistics to project management. Automation isn’t likely to affect those positions anytime soon.

What concerns do employers have regarding the existing workforce?
Soft skills, such as interpersonal communication and interacting well with people, are crucial. A person has to be a reliable team player, otherwise most companies would rather do without them.

Turnover in the truck-driving field is a result of people coming into the industry without being fully aware of the expectations of the profession. People need to be honest with themselves and their family about the lifestyle they’re taking on.

Transportation and logistics offers a career, not just a job. But candidates need to understand what the industry is about, ask pertinent questions of employers and themselves and not just think about the pay. It’s important that trainers, educators and employers discuss the realities of the industry with potential employees to manage expectations and reduce turnover.

Insights Education is brought to you by Cuyahoga Community College.

How digital transformation is driving change within IT

Digital transformation is the way in which companies are adopting technology, specifically digital technologies, to innovate their day-to-day business activities. As one company successfully incorporates a transformative technology, it changes the business model for all companies.

“The pace of change with digital and emerging technology is incredible,” says Monique Umphrey, vice president of workforce innovation and college-wide dean of the Information Technology Center of Excellence at Cuyahoga Community College. “The changes that will take place in the next five years will eclipse the changes seen during the previous 20 years.”

She says there is a confluence of innovation taking place simultaneously: artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, bitcoin, chatbots, 3-D printing, data science, analytics, cloning, nanotech and quantum computing, to name a few.

“Any one of these would have huge impact on day-to-day business,” she says. “Now, because their cost has dropped dramatically, any company could be deploying any number of these technologies simultaneously. Those that aren’t will soon find they’ve been left behind.”

Smart Business spoke with Umphrey about emerging technologies and the evolving role IT professionals play in companies’ digital transformation.

How are businesses being impacted by digital transformation?
Market share is where companies will feel it the most. Consumers have a plethora of choices, most of which they can comparison shop on their smartphone. That’s meant that companies aren’t competing for business locally anymore.

They’re competing against global companies because they’re essentially all accessible digitally.
And it’s not just shopping. Companies are using digital advancements to gain a competitive advantage in fields such as health care, manufacturing and more.

As the digital transformation permeates every industry, businesses can’t afford to ignore the trends. Take, for instance, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. In previous years, the average lifespan of a company on this index was 65 years. Today it’s 15 years. The average company lifespan has decreased in part because of the impact of emerging technology and disruptive innovation.

What is happening to IT departments in the face of such change?
IT departments have evolved from a cost center to a strategic partner. They serve as a collaborator by sharing emerging technologies with the C-suite along with ideas about how to use it to gain a competitive advantage.

The perception of IT personnel as people relegated to some dark room writing code or fiddling with computer hardware isn’t reality. IT personnel are strategic partners in today’s companies. Executive leadership is relying on them to have not only the technical skills, but to also be knowledgeable and be strong communicators.

They need to be able to share the basic tenants of a technology and explain its potential application to the business. They also need to be able to show personnel how the technology is used to improve workflow.
Today’s IT professionals still need hard skills, but that’s just enough to get their foot in the door. Tech skills and communication skills are needed to get the job and business savvy is needed to get promoted.

How can companies stay on the leading edge of technological change?
Companies shouldn’t be afraid of or shy away from today’s technology challenges. There are free tutorials and primers to give anyone a basic understanding of the tools that exist.

Also, educators are broadening their curriculum to make sure all graduates are digitally proficient and can understand the changes that are happening. It is important for companies to invest in re-skilling their employees. It is especially important for non-tech employees to gain digital training so that they have additional tools to solve today’s business problems.

No one needs to be a tech genius to initiate a digital transformation project. Some of the best digital projects have come from people who recognized a problem and found a creative way to solve it through technology. Learning more about digital technologies expands a company’s possible solutions for existing problems.

Insights Education is brought to you by Cuyahoga Community College

A diverse and inclusive workplace has many tangible benefits

A narrowed definition of diversity typically refers to differences in race, age, gender and sexual orientation. However, it has evolved to include diversity of thought, experience, ability, personality and communication style.

“The broadened sense of the term is an attempt to convey that everyone is different and those differences help drive business results,” says Tiffany Short, Director of Organizational Effectiveness at Corporate College, a division of Cuyahoga Community College.

Businesses have gotten better at hiring for diversity, but there is a need to foster an inclusionary work environment through practices and company norms to ensure those differences are welcomed and the benefits can be realized.”

Smart Business spoke with Short about the state of diversity and inclusion in the region’s businesses, and how to activate a diverse workforce.

How well is the concept of diversity and inclusion being realized in area businesses?
Organizations understand that diversity and inclusion are not just about recruiting and hiring. They’re going a step further and shifting their cultures to be more inclusive, which requires companies to understand where they are, envision where they want to go and drive toward change.

Leveraging diversity and inclusion assessments to gauge employees’ level of engagement and experiences at work will provide companies with insight on areas that need to be improved to create a more inclusive work environment.

In addition, offering robust training to help employees and managers to collaborate, communicate and navigate conflict will serve them well in creating a respectful and civil work environment.
Northeast Ohio companies are getting there, but it takes time to fully realize the results. These initiatives need to be woven into the fabric of the company as a business imperative.

How do the principles of diversity and inclusion benefit a business?
Bringing together people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds leads to more creative and innovative solutions, and evidence suggests there are dollars associated with embracing these initiatives. A 2015 McKinsey & Co. analysis found that ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

What are companies doing to ensure their recruiting methods reach and appeal to a diverse population of candidates?
Many companies are adjusting their recruiting methods. Some are integrating images of a diverse range of people into their website and other digital portals, designating sections describing their company’s culture and commitment to diversity and inclusion, and being transparent on what they are doing to foster an inclusive work environment, all of which applicants look for before applying.

In addition, companies are starting to expand the locations where they recruit, and are partnering with schools to create a direct link to minority students to apply for open positions.

Often organizations are under pressure to quickly fill open positions. When they plan ahead, they can think strategically about where to focus their efforts and how to expand that recruitment net. Otherwise they tend to stay with what’s worked in the past.

Once a position is filled, companies can improve retention through mentoring programs and employee resource networks, both of which help increase engagement and establish an inclusive environment.

How can companies get the most out of a diverse employee population?
Much of it is about being aware of our own unconscious and personal biases and how they affect our interactions and decision-making at work. In addition, companies can invest in and utilize diversity training as a method to reinforce the policies and practices that lead to more desirable behaviors and positive team dynamics.

Creating an inclusive environment that embraces and welcomes all employees enables them to bring their diverse knowledge and skills to the table. Claiming to be diverse isn’t enough. Be proactive through assessments, training and strategic recruiting efforts to diversify and improve workforce engagement.

Insights Education is brought to you by Cuyahoga Community College

Demand is growing in the captioning and court reporting profession

There is major demand for captioners and court reporters. According to a recent National Court Reporters Association survey that looked at the trends affecting job opportunities in the profession, it’s expected there will be 5,500 job openings available in the field across the country in the next five years.

“We have a 100 percent employment rate for graduates,” says Kelly Moranz, CRI, program manager and adjunct faculty in the Captioning and Court Reporting program at Cuyahoga Community College. “I’m always getting calls about job openings. Court reporters and captionists are being hired locally and all over the country.”

Smart Business spoke with Moranz about the captioning and court reporting career field, its outlook and requirements.

Why is demand for captioners and court reporters increasing?
Part of the reason for the strong demand is an increase in the retirement rate of court reporters. Jobs are opening up and there aren’t enough people to fill them.

It’s not a well-known profession, which means people don’t often think of it as a career choice despite court reporting programs working locally and nationally to get the word out about the opportunities that exist.

Also, the FCC has instituted tighter regulations for broadcast captioning that may curtail the use of transcription software because it isn’t as accurate or as consistent as the new regulations demand, so human providers are needed.

What tends to draw people to this career?
A big draw is the great deal of flexibility there is in the field. Captioners and court reporters often can work from home. And, though many people don’t know this, there is significant earning potential. It’s not uncommon for experienced and capable reporters to earn $100,000 or more annually.

What are some common misconceptions about the work and the career field?
Many people don’t realize how much technology is used in the steno machine writing and voice writing fields.
It seems that the popular impression is someday all captionists and court reporters will be replaced by transcription software and voice recorders.

Voice recorders don’t announce that they’re not working or that they were unable to clearly pick up what was said, so the human element is essential in this profession.

Others imagine that it would be boring just sitting there, typing what people say. That’s because they don’t realize the different job opportunities that exist for someone with this set of skills.

What is the typical career path?
New reporters typically start out doing freelance work — deposition hearings, arbitrations. They may do some CART captioning, providing for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, or other real-time writing such as broadcast captioning.

In court reporting, reporters do editing and transcripts, so their work only needs to be 95 percent accurate. CART captioning requires 97-98 percent accuracy because there are no transcripts. It’s all real-time.

Program graduates should think outside the box. There are post-production captioning opportunities for companies such as Nextflix and Hulu, and organizations that need audio files transcribed.

What training is required?
The better programs train people to be real-time writers, which means writing with the view that someone is looking at their screen. That way, regardless of which direction the reporter goes, he or she is prepared for either.

Programs typically put students on the path to earn their National Court Reporters Association or National Verbatim Reporters Association certification. That’s convenient for those who aren’t seeking a degree or who have already earned another degree. There is also the associate degree option, which typically takes two years to complete.

This is a skill-based profession, so the emphasis is on performance. Students must practice regularly to have success in their careers. It can be challenging, but the benefits and rewards are great.

Captioning and court reporting is an in-demand field offering excellent pay and great flexibility. It’s a viable career choice for those willing to put in the work.

Insights Education is brought to you by Cuyahoga Community College

Steps employers can take to bridge the work-skills gap

The work-skills gap is the difference between the skills employers need from a workforce and the skills the available workforce has.

Jason Abbott, director of workforce development at Cuyahoga Community College’s Workforce Economic Development Division at the Advanced Technology Training Center, says that gap is stunting economic growth in industry sectors and the overall economy because companies aren’t operating at full potential.

Smart Business spoke with Abbott about how to bridge the work-skills gap.

How is it that the skills gap came to be?
There are areas in which employers are operating less than optimally because they can’t find the talent to adequately fill positions needed to perform better, so they face output constraints.

Automation is also contributing to the skills gap. Lower-skill occupations have been replaced with higher-skill occupations that come with a need for increased training. This has slowed the progress of workers through the training pipelines.

The national conversation doesn’t necessarily reflect the work that’s being done on a regional level to bridge this gap. A macro-level debate is controversial since specific employer gaps and the skills of the workforce are a microeconomic issue.

Those that are engaged in workforce development are relying on regional data of workforce participation rates to describe the in-demand occupations and the skills needed to fill them. From that, training can accelerated to fill the pipeline.

What can employers do to close the work skills gap?
The emphasis recently has been to convince employers to leverage their incumbent employees and upskill their abilities. There are limits on the effectiveness of filling gaps by external hiring. More employers recognize that they have a ready workforce and are choosing to upskill existing employees while concurrently backfilling with entry-level employees.

This approach also goes a long way to address one of the biggest skill gaps employers have, which is a lack of soft skills. There’s less risk in building the technical skills of someone who already understands the company culture and how to work with others within the organization. They’ve already proven they’re a fit. Give them the training they need to take on greater responsibility or different, more technical, tasks.

Employers should reassess and redefine the skill requirements of their positions. There are instances in which employers have unrealistic skill or experience requirements for certain positions and that is hurting their ability to fill positions. Employers should also consider reevaluating pre-employment requirements that may bar otherwise qualified workers from taking a job.

For instance, some employers can eliminate a clean criminal record as a requirement for employment, particularly with regard to those who have low-level offenses.

Employers may find success through the implementation of apprenticeship programs or learn-and-earn opportunities. Many job candidates need to earn money while learning. Employers can help underwrite that through such programs.

There’s also the need for employers to better market themselves. Competition among employers for highly skilled workers is increasing. It’s essential that companies explain why these workers should join their organization when they have many options for employment.

Besides employers, what other stakeholders can help address the skills gap?
Addressing the skills gap takes a multifaceted approach in collaboration with parties that range from the parents of school-age children to community organizations. The best approach is regional, because stakeholders in any given market understand the unique challenges and strengths at play.

Partnerships with stakeholders at every level of the market are the key to finding solutions for the skills gap. It also takes buy-in from businesses, identifying the right skills necessary for each job and the living wage associated with those skills, and properly marketing the available opportunities. Fortunately, there already are actions being taken to address these shortages, many of which are making headway.

Insights Education is brought to you by Cuyahoga Community College

How baby boomer retirements are threatening organizational knowledge

There are currently five generations that are active in the workforce, ranging from the oldest group, the silent generation, which has all but exited the workforce, to the youngest group, Generation Z, which is just beginning to enter the workforce.

Smart Business spoke with Jody Wheaton, executive director, client solutions and programs at Cuyahoga Community College’s Corporate College, about the coming generational transition, its impact on businesses and how to facilitate knowledge transfer while there’s still time.

What is the effect of today’s mix of generations working together?

When business leaders and management talk about the generational mix in the workforce, it’s often characterized by differences and conflicts. That fails to account for the many similarities shared between the generations.

For example, baby boomers and millennials, the two largest workforce cohorts, have complementary dispositions. Millennials like to learn and baby boomers like to share information. This is an especially important link given the rate of retirement of the latter generation and the threat their exit poses to the transfer of institutional knowledge.

How is the rate of boomer retirements impacting employers?

There has been a surge in boomer retirement, with some reports saying as many as 10,000 boomers are retiring every day. This is expected to persist, and the impact will be felt for many years to come.

One area where the impact will be felt the most is in management where some 50 percent of boomers in those positions will soon retire. Not many companies are prepared to have half of their management team turn over in the next five to 10 years.

What is the greatest effect of losing this management talent?

Allowing knowledge to leave the organization becomes a bottom-line expense for companies because the newly retired had a unique skillset and organizational understanding that will no longer exist within the company. Businesses will sometimes find themselves in the position of hiring former employees back as consultants because they have no other way to fill the knowledge gap.

Businesses generally are not prepared for the impact baby boomer retirements will have on their organization. Many companies have done little to document or share that knowledge before it walks out the door. It’s a challenge companies must address now or they stand to lose a great deal of their organizational knowledge if nothing is done.

How can companies facilitate the sharing of knowledge among employees?

It’s important to create a transfer strategy to impart that knowledge on the younger generations. One way to address this is to have older workers mentor people from the younger generations and share their knowledge. Mentoring relationships should be semi-structured, more informal. Some companies organize gatherings where older and younger generations have the chance to meet and talk. It also helps to provide general guidelines that define what makes an effective mentor and mentee. Ultimately, however, that relationship should be put in the employees’ hands.

Conduct a workforce analysis to determine what the older generation values and use that information to make sure they stay engaged. Baby boomers’ contributions to the business are meaningful, so they shouldn’t be made to feel as if they’re being replaced.

What steps should companies take to engage both boomers and millennials?

The management team should have timely career conversations with aging team members to understand their plans and not be caught off guard by a seemingly sudden decision to retire.

Managers should also ensure the younger generation has a development plan so the path to their next career step is clear. They should work with HR to ensure that talent pools exist and proactively identify who is capable of advancing to fill leadership positions.

Taking practical steps today to address the wave of boomer retirements gives companies the best chance of mitigating its impact.

Insights Education is brought to you by Cuyahoga Community College

Employers, job seekers must both adapt to meet new market realities

There have been many changes in recent years to the employment landscape for both employers and job seekers. For example, social networking is having a significant impact on how job searches are undertaken by both employers and candidates.

But that’s not where the need to adapt stops. La Tina R. Johnson, Ed.D., workforce director of Job Link Services at Cuyahoga Community College, says employers are increasingly having difficulty finding the right talent in the Northeast Ohio workforce.

“A high school diploma is no longer enough to qualify someone to land a job that pays a good wage,” she says. “Individuals need to have up-to-date skills and, where applicable, have stackable certifications that show progressive skill attainment in order to advance within their career.”

And as candidates improve their skill sets through training and education, Johnson says employers should find ways to onboard candidates who have the right skills, but lack industry experience.

Smart Business spoke with Johnson about the region’s hiring environment and how employers and job seekers can both get what they want.

How do employers and job seekers each view the regional employment environment?

Beyond up-to-date technical competencies, and proven industry knowledge and experience, employers are increasingly looking for candidates with excellent soft skills — chief among them the ability to effectively communicate — so the employee can work well with others within the company and be an outstanding representative of the company when interacting with customers. Employers frequently talk about closing the soft-skills gap they see in workplace etiquette, work ethic, communication and customer service.

Employers are finding that a lack of soft skills leads to retention issues — candidates have the technical qualifications to land a job, but they can’t keep it. This isn’t something employers are willing to invest time or resources into fixing, so candidates need to apply self-awareness and self-discipline to ensure they arrive to work on time and with the proper motivation, and avoid unnecessary call offs.

Job candidates express concern that there aren’t enough available jobs in the market and that they often do not have the qualifications desired for positions that are available. Regarding the latter, it’s important to understand that the job market is changing and employers expect more out of their workforce. This means candidates who find they’re often unqualified for these positions need to get additional training so that they’re among the better candidates for the region’s in-demand positions. This could mean undertaking training or education to facilitate a transition into another industry.

What would you consider to be the barriers that make it difficult for employers and job candidates to connect?

It’s typical for employers to want candidates to have a certain number of years of experience in a field. This may narrow the pipeline of applicable candidates who are just finishing school or have taken courses to facilitate a transition to a new industry. To open the door to candidates who lack the experience, but have the skills to do the job, employers should consider creating more internship opportunities to help candidates transition from academia to the workforce, or be willing to give them an opportunity to showcase their talent in entry-level positions that have a clear upward trajectory.

Candidates, on the other hand, should understand that a transition to a new field won’t come at the same wage or salary they had in their previous role. They shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss entry-level roles because they offer a chance to get work experience and show value to employers, which creates opportunities for advancement. Take into account the whole opportunity, including skill building and the value of the entire compensatory package.

Employers today have put an emphasis on culture and have higher expectations of candidates. That means job seekers need to be willing to build up their technical skill set and improve soft skills to land and keep a job. And employers need to reconsider job qualifications to welcome transitioning candidates who may not yet have the experience, but are otherwise prepared to hit the ground running.

Insights Education is brought to you by Cuyahoga Community College

Training and continued education are central to success in public safety

Over the next few years, career fields in public safety — police officer, private security, corrections officer, emergency medical technician (EMT), firefighter, paramedic, 911 dispatcher and others — are expected to grow their demand for qualified candidates. This increase in demand has brought with it a greater emphasis on training.

“This is a period of time in the U.S. in which we have put greater value on our safety,” says Clayton A. Harris, chief of police at Cuyahoga Community College and dean of the college’s Public Safety Center of Excellence. “When the country went through the financial crisis, in many cases security services were among the first to be cut. That’s not the case anymore. Security is considered a necessity, and that has organizations reconsidering how that department functions as a part of the whole.”

He says there is a demand for well-trained security professionals who are capable of employing the latest techniques and technology as organizations look to offset attrition related to the aging workforce.

“There is a constant need to replace outgoing people,” he says.

Smart Business spoke with Harris about what public safety candidates and working professionals need in order to be successful.

What kind of training is needed to pursue a career in public safety?

Those interested in a career in public safety need to prepare to take the requisite state examinations. The Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission creates criteria to become a certified officer in the state.

Generally, candidates need their high school diploma, which is a prerequisite to enter into the required academies. In addition, candidates must pass a background check and a physical agility test. Once those are passed, candidates attend a police academy, which can be run by different agencies. Large cities typically have their own academy; community colleges also have a basic police academy. An academy takes students through more than 600 hours of training that should prepare them to pass the state examinations.

With other career trajectories, such as corrections officer, the candidate must be employed by a county, which has its own corrections academy or contracts with an agency like Tri-C to run an academy on its behalf. Once a person has been hired and sworn in as a corrections officer, he or she will undertake an additional 200 hours of training and take the certification test.

Security guards have a 140-hour basic training program that, once completed, sets them up to take the state exam. The criteria for firefighters, paramedics and EMTs are similar in that there is a training academy that prepares candidates for the state exam.

How can those currently working in public safety keep their skills current?

Staying current is essential for people working in the public safety field. That’s easier nowadays because there is a great deal of information available on the web. Large groups, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the U.S. Department of Justice, for example, make research available that covers trends, equipment and more. In addition, there are many public safety publications and websites, professional associations, and local, state and regional organizations that help professionals in the field stay up to date.

How has technology impacted training and tools used on the job?

In order to be effective in the public safety field, candidates and professionals must take advantage of the latest tools and technology, much of which requires training to use correctly and be successful. For example, the technology that has made body-worn cameras possible has improved exponentially, as has the technology around the design and use of bulletproof vests, improving their capability to stop certain munitions. Technology has also impacted investigative techniques and the equipment used to investigate crimes. Police need to be aware of these changes and remain up-to-speed enough to employ them.

When I hire an officer, he or she must be able to show competence when using the latest technology or it’s hard for me to build that person up to someone who can be effective in the field. It’s critical that candidates are exposed to the latest technology and gain some knowledge on how to deploy it effectively.

Insights Education is brought to you by Cuyahoga Community College

Candidates with the right skills can have a future in manufacturing

Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio is a more than a viable career option. The industry is leading the region in employment opportunities and is contributing considerably to Northeast Ohio’s economy, which is why the need for workforce training is critical.

“There may be many people interested in manufacturing who don’t believe they can do the work because they lack the necessary skills or don’t know what opportunities exist,” says Alicia Booker, vice president of manufacturing at Cuyahoga Community College. “Fortunately there are intermediaries that can teach these skillsets, translating the needs of employers to future employees.”

Smart Business spoke with Booker about job opportunities in manufacturing and the skills needed to be successful in the industry.

What are the skills needed in today’s manufacturing industry?

There are essentially two levels of skills. The first level includes the more traditional technical skills required of mechanics, HVAC technicians, machinists and welders. Those with these skills are still in demand. There’s a gap in the talent pipeline, however, largely because of a drought in vocational opportunities — shop class, for instance.

The other level includes the soft skills, such as critical thinking, communication, troubleshooting, and writing and organizational skills. The nature of work has changed in manufacturing. People don’t just work with their hands. They need to be able to think critically about the impact their job has on the other aspects of a project and solve problems.

Another consideration for those in the trades is the ability to create a pathway to management. Having the skills needed to get an entry-level job is one thing, but there is a need for people to move up to management, which necessitates an understanding of the regulatory environment that surrounds a company, sales, customer service, etc.

What areas of manufacturing are expected to have the most job growth?

The segment with the most anticipated growth is transportation — automotive is expected to be strong, but the emerging growth is in aerospace. Fabricated metals is an area of growth as the defense and medical industries call for lighter materials that have greater levels of performance. Food manufacturing is also contributing to growth in manufacturing, as is steel-based machining. The oil, gas and coal industry is seeing resurgence, but not in a significant way. However, if it picks up it will be a huge economic feeder in Northeast Ohio.

What misconceptions are keeping some from pursuing a career in manufacturing?

There’s a belief that manufacturing jobs are dirty and unsafe; require little skill, so they’re geared toward those who are not college bound; and have a high potential for layoffs. That’s a significant misconception, especially in advanced manufacturing. Factory floors are generally much cleaner today than they have been and much of the work has a digital component. Much of it requires highly skilled people to perform.

How can those people currently working in manufacturing keep up with new technologies or gain new skills?

There has to be a commitment to gaining new skills, whether employers help with that through talent and professional development, or people develop their own skills and grow through education.

At some shops, it’s a collaborative environment in which robotics work with and alongside people. That’s contributing to the expectation that Northeast Ohio manufacturers could see a 70 percent productivity increase by 2025. That leads to more opportunities and jobs, but those jobs will require a higher level of skills.

The key for job seekers will be getting the knowledge required of roles in new technologies, such as 3-D printing and the internet of things. Automation technology is also broadening its presence, but that doesn’t necessarily displace workers. People are needed to do programming and conduct an analysis of the end product to troubleshoot the equipment.

Job candidates need to prepare for how the nature of manufacturing work is changing. The same can be said for employers. Companies must change and adapt to keep up with industry advances.

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