Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jobs For Our Grads That Don't Include French Fries

You might think I'm on a rant about jobs. Hmm, I guess I am. I wrote a post the other day on the Cleveland Hub Initiative which could bring 6500 jobs to Ohio once the project gets off the ground. Today I'm still on jobs because, well, because we all want more jobs in Cleveland. I was lucky enough to talk with Rebecca Kusner, Vice President of the Workforce Development 'arm' of WIRE-NET, which is a cool acronymn for Westside Industrial Retention and Expansion Network. WIRE-NET has been around since 1988, doing things like helping manufacturing companies experience economic growth. There are over 200 member companies under the WIRE-NET umbrella (who knew there were THAT many manufacturing companies on the west side of Cleveland!)

What else does WIRE-NET do? Industrial Real Estate. They work with redevelopment corporations, city governments, individual companies. For example, Rebecca pointed out that WIRE-NET was involved in the recent successful efforts to implode the old Trinity Building (on Detroit in Cleveland) where a factory sat vacant. The City and well, all of us, now feel as if that land can be utilized for viable and much needed economic growth. WIRE-NET was instrumental in working on the brownfield remediation efforts there.

Rebecca oversees programs that help our companies with a pool of good job applicants. Their literature states that over 1800 people have been placed in jobs since WIRE-NET programs got started. They have Work Source, which places adults in jobs. Recently they have expanded their involvement to include continued supervision with the ability to provide job counseling for people placed in those jobs to help better ensure long term placement, and, as Rebecca said, overcome any barriers to job success. WIRE-NET has an on site program at Max Hayes High School, corporate sponsored and called School-to-Career. Rebecca Kusner told me WIRE-NET has been doing this for ten years. It includes training as well as job shadowing, paid work experience as an apprentice. There is also an Accelerated Introduction to Manufacturing (AIM) summer camp, opoen to 25 students. There is a recent graduate from John Marshall I am hoping to interview soon on this blog.

As an aside, manufacturing companies have been worried about replacing current workers as they retire. I remember reading that a majority of the machinists in our area are in their fifties. The WIRE-NET connection for these 200+ companies has been helping them replace that job force to keep the industry stronger.

Everyone wants to keep 'brain drain' from being a problem here, so a program like this can help keep our high school graduates off the streets and happily employed with a solid future. For more information: http://www.wire-net.org/ There is also a WIRE-NET blog with some insightful stories about manufacturing and manufacturers.
Enjoy this somewhat related music video by Bush :-)
Peace Out - 3C