News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Akron General

Greater Akron Chamber

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Economy and Business

Ohio emphasizes non-college workplace skills
Apprenticeship or two-year degree may enough for jobs in demand

Mark Urycki
Matt Simpson teaches students masonry skills at Akron's Buchtel high school.
Courtesy of MARK URYCKI
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
When Ohio's governor called for a greater focus on vocational job training last month, he tapped into a nationwide debate challenging the idea that a college degree is the only key to success. A growing demand for skilled workers in manufacturing and the building trades is causing some to rethink their career choices.
President to Governor on alternate careers

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:00)

In his State of the State address, Gov. Kasich called for more job training programs and he wants students preparing for jobs skills as early as the seventh grade. 

“How did we ever lose our way on vocational education? Why did we ever put it down?  Why did we not understand its value?"

Manufacturing jobs grew in Northeast Ohio from 2010 to 2012, the first time in a decade. That’s according to a new study prepared by Cleveland State University for MAGNET, the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network.

The study found the industry employs 263,000 workers in the region, second only to health care. With costs going up in China and the shale gas boom in Ohio, that workforce is expected to grow.  

High school plus
Jenifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution told the Akron Roundtable last month that advanced manufacturing companies need trained workers. She said those skills don’t require a bachelor’s degree but what’s being called “high school plus.”

“If Akron can be one of the places that cracks the code on helping workers make a transition from high school through some training into a STEM, a technology job, then it will have something it can really offer the rest of the country: a model for doing that.”

Telling any young person they may not need to go to college is usually a good way to draw criticism. But that’s what President Obama did at a recent visit to a factory in Wisconsin. 

Matching skills to demand
“Folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.    Now I love art history, so I don’t want to get a bunch of emails from everybody. I’m just saying you can make a really good living and have a great career without getting a four-year college education as long as you get the skills and the training that you need ”  

The president wants a review of job-training programs, saying manufacturing and construction jobs exist but the number of skilled workers is lacking.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Warrensville Heights disagrees with the president's view on trade workers making more money - but she does see some value in other job skills.    

“If you have a college education over the course of your life, you make hundreds of thousands more dollars. I do believe we should not pressure young people to go to college when they choose not to. I believe there needs to be alternatives. I also believe that when you come out of high school, you should be prepared to do something.”

Where the jobs are
A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland finds a college degree in Ohio does indeed pay off --on average -- with a better income.   But it also finds workers with certain trades and skills can earn a comparable salary.  

Matt Simpson is teaching masonry at Akron’s Buchtel High School.  The wages may not be high, but the federal government lists masonry as one of the fastest growing jobs in the next eight years.  Senior Trent Newsome says he gets a sense of accomplishment in building something from nothing. He plans to skip college and get right to work.  

“I’m actually going to get into the working field in masonry.  That’s my plan because it’s like you can come right out of high school into a job, which is what I like, instead of having to do another four years.”

Akron school officials note that pupils in career-r tech classes have a better graduation rate than the district average. 

College and a trade
But vocational training does not preclude college education. Community colleges are beginning to partner with unions to offer two-year degrees along with union apprenticeship programs that lead to trade certifications.  The director of construction industry training  at Cuyahoga Community College is Bob Verhoff.  He says the demand for such skills has some college graduates coming back.

“There are folks who have bachelor’s degrees that are going through construction apprenticeship programs because they can earn more and, too, the jobs they thought were going to be there aren’t in the fields they got ready for at college.”

Verhoff adds one benefit to being in the trades is that feeling of accomplishment - when you look back at a building a bridge or a machine at the end of the day and know that you built it. 

(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Charter reform bill includes controversial change for some teachers
I work for a former White Hat charter school; it was sold to another (for-profit) company this past summer and we were told that they would not pay into STRS/PE...

Bhutanese resettlement has had a big economic impact
Informative especially for nonmembers of North Hill. I appreciate the fact that you mention that the younger generation has an easier time than the elders but t...

Ottawa County Commissioner sworn in as new house member
Congratulations on your new appointment to the Ohio House. I'm certain you will do an outstanding job in your new role representing our district. When you have...

Holden Arboretum opens a new canopy walk and emergent tower
Visited the Holden Arboretum today to witness the incredible work you did constructing the tower and bridges.WOW! Very impressed. Knew the build had to be great...

Local club works to bring back the once-prevalent American elm
I would love to help! Where would I get some of the new Strain so I could plant them?

Four Geauga school districts consider consolidating on the Kent State campus
Berkshire was smart to merge with Ledgemont because it had shrinking enrollment and excess capacity at its high school. Now that Cardinal is dragging its feet ...

Ohio Rep. John Boccieri sworn into office and hopes to look for 'middle ground' with colleagues
Welcome back to the Statehouse, John. You are a terrific representative in the truest sense always representing the people's voice in teh district you serve. ...

Lawmakers call for indefinite freeze on Green Energy standards
It's a shame the Hudson Rep. Chooses to mimic the words of the extreme right senator on his way out to join ALEC when we know the Pope was just here because of...

Youngstown Schools file suit against the Ohio Department of Education to stop the implementation of an academic distress commission
Voters should ask WHY this plan was rushed into law under the cover of darkness. What clues point to the beneficiaries of this plan? Both Patrick O'Donnell of...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University