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Area Students, Manufacturers and Educators Gather to Address Workforce Shortage

Too many job openings and not enough people to fill them: Perhaps the number one challenge facing manufacturers across northwest Ohio and the country. Public accounting firm Gilmore Jasion Mahler works with many clients in the manufacturing space and is bringing them and other manufacturers together with educators, students, parents and other officials to discuss ways to work together to overcome these challenges. 

“Help Wanted: Getting Students and Manufacturers to Speak the Same Language” is an interactive panel discussion scheduled for Thursday, May 25th in both Maumee and Findlay. The events are from 11:30 am-1 pm at Findlay Country Club at 1500 Country Club Drive in Findlay and from 3-5 pm the same day at Brandywine Country Club at 6904 Salisbury Road in Maumee.

“We know that the lack of young people pursuing the skilled trades has strained area manufacturers for many years,” says CPA Charlie Heid, who leads Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Manufacturing Specialist Group. “We hear from our manufacturing clients this is perhaps the biggest challenge they continue to face. We also know we can’t solve this in an afternoon, but we’re hoping to move the needle and offer some valuable takeaways and action items for our attendees.”

The moderated panel discussions will include Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Romules Durant, Penta Career Center Superintendent Ron Matter, Pam Hamlin, Career Tech coordinator at Millstream Career Center in Findlay, and others committed to addressing the lack of a skilled labor workforce. Young people and their parents will also be part of the panel discussions. The events are open to financial executives from area manufacturing & distribution businesses and their HR representatives. Some business executives from the construction industry will also attend, as many of them face the same workforce shortage challenge. Other special guests at the Findlay and Maumee events will include:

Manufacturers and area educators know all too well that they face a number of challenges in connecting young people with careers in manufacturing. Most agree there are many contributing factors, including the nature of the current generation.

Workforce shortage 13abc Conklin & Co.“Many students lack the mind-set to want to work hard,” says Millstream Career Center’s Pam Hamlin. “We also face a negative perception of what manufacturing looks like. We are trying to expose students and provide them with the opportunity they have in front of them.”

Penta Career Center Superintendent Ron Matter joined GJM Partner Wes Beham for an appearance on 13abc's Conklin & Co. with Lee Conklin to discuss the upcoming roundtable events. Matter is very vocal about his distaste of the current narrative. He agrees we need to change the conversation when it comes to young people pursuing vocational education.

"For too many young people the only message they hear in the media, from their peers, from their parents, from their counselors and teachers, and from political leaders is that a four-year degree is the only path to success," says Matter. "At Penta Career Center and across this region we know that this message could not be further from the truth. I believe training beyond high school can and should look different for all adults - depending upon what it is they want to do and what is the training/education needed to get there."

Laurie Zydonik leads a nonprofit in Findlay called Raise the Bar which has taken the lead on workforce issues in Findlay and Hancock County. Zydonik says the organization is looking at the short term and long term in regard to the need for stronger “soft skills” in young people. They’re working to implement “The Leader in Me” program in Hancock County schools which is based on Franklin Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

“This is a large scale project based on the long-term benefit of empowering and developing youth from an early age,” says Zydonik. “If we can provide the foundation of learning so they are prepared to research, explore and experiment with what they are passionate about, the skills they have become accustomed to (and are now habits) will naturally enhance their growth instead of impeding it. For example: If you have spoken in public since you were in kindergarten, speaking in a meeting at work is not scary, it just feels normal.”

There is no cost to attend the GJM Manufacturing & Distribution Financial Executive Roundtable events. The Findlay event includes lunch. The Maumee event includes an optional social hour from 5-6 pm. Manufacturing financial executives and their HR representatives can RSVP via email for either roundtable event to info@gjmltd.com. Please specify which event you’ll be attending.

Gilmore Jasion Mahler (GJM) established the Manufacturing & Distribution Financial Executive Roundtable series after learning that area manufacturers needed a way to come together to share their challenges and successes. The events are held three times a year. Previous roundtable topics have included the economic outlook, company culture, employee engagement and the state of Ohio manufacturing.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD is the largest public accounting firm in the region, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers comprehensive financial services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory and healthcare management. GJM’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.