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|Research indicates that in the current economy as well as post-recovery, the greatest opportunities for job-seekers will be in the higher-paying sectors. Northeast Ohio may have suffered because it has been late in adapting from heavy manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy, but it is well-positioned for future growth in higher-pay, high-tech jobs not only because of job-training programs at its colleges and universities but also because of the region's many innovative companies creating new products that will in turn create more jobs.|
"What's really in demand are higher-skilled types of jobs," said Team NEO Research Chief Jim Robey. Team NEO markets northeast Ohio to companies around the world to try to get them to establish operations here.Of course, the economy has stalled in all sectors. And even before the recession, Northeast Ohio was slow to adapt from heavy manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy. But local educators and business officials say it's well-set for a recovery and growth in higher-pay, higher-tech jobs.
And even now, the area has more openings than many realize. Lorain County Community College President Roy Church says that even some traditional trades such as materials joining and advanced welding, employers cannot find enough people to fulfill the opportunities they currently see available.
"There are jobs available in manufacturing even today," said Church. "... They require higher level skills than ever before, but they are out there."
Higher-level manufacturers aren't the only ones having trouble finding talent in Northeast Ohio. A recent study found 5,000 healthcare and information technology jobs cannot be filled. That's why organizations such as Nortech and
"Some of the industries that we're looking at coming here, they're around advanced energy, making bio-medical devices," Team NEO's Robey said. "It's really around our ability to make things, produce things, use information technology to produce things in a more productive manner."
'Destructive technology' takes its tollStill, job loss is real in this region, and more than just a product of the current economy. Efficiency and technology have played a role. Manufacturing productivity is up 6 percent in the last two decades, but the automation and robotics responsible for that have cut deeply into jobs at the region's traditional, legacy industries.
"We have been going through a period of well over 20 years of a diminution of manufacturing jobs and the evolution of a new economy," Church said. Such "disruptive technologies," Church said, "have made our manufacturers more successful, but have required fewer people in the process.
" That's why a grow-your-own strategy alongside efforts to try to maintain the competitiveness of our manufacturing sector are just critically important."
Church acknowledges "grow-your-own" is slow. It means establishing new products and companies to create new jobs. But he says it's also crucial.
The payoffKent Displays is a grow-your-own. It set up in 1993 with a signature product developed in a Kent State University physics lab. It's a flexible liquid crystal display that looks like a plain piece of plastic sheeting. And it works so well, it's selling in China.
"It's actually a reverse of what we have often been seeing where everything's coming from China and being marketed and sold in the U.S.," said Kent Displays' spokesman Kevin Oswald.
Kent Displays' installation of a new "roll-to-roll" machine has also increased output, and created new jobs.
And, Oswald said, "certainly as demand should increase for this material and as applications increase for it, we would potentially need to add additional machines to meet that demand. And with those new machines would come additional new employees."
Kent Displays' Chief Executive Officer Albert Green stays upbeat in a down economy.
"We like everyone else have been impacted, but we see that our best days are ahead of us," Green said. "The market for the products that we offer is far from saturated. In fact, it's growing at a very rapid pace."
He acknowledged the impact of the economy. "We put on hold some of the hires. But, you know, I see this as a pause, not as a stop."
Those pushing and predicting job growth in northeast Ohio insist the key to getting those jobs is education. For some jobs, that means beyond even a four-year college degree.
Kent Displays' senior materials scientist Clinton Breganza said he's seen that play out with his job.
"I took [my job] just before the economy started going down," Breganza said. "Actually our company's doing pretty well. We almost feel like, 'What's the news all about?' But I'm in sort of a bubble because I'm a scientist and most of the scientists in my field are getting hired."
Mid-level training has valueOhio also is putting a lot of emphasis on training at the less-than baccalaureate level " certification programs and two-year degrees that provide technical skills for people working in emerging industries.
Cleveland State University Vice President Ned Hill said he has little sympathy for people who have no training and won't get it.
"Low-skilled people, the bulk of their jobs in the future are going to come out of population-serving activities," Hill said. "My shirts get sent out to the laundry because I don't have time to iron. So, essentially those types of activities are going to support people who are lesser-skilled, lesser-educated, or made a bunch of really bad choices when they were kids.
"The United States is heading for the next twenty years that is going to be viciously class-conscious," Hill added. "And it's not between the rich; it's not going to be any ethnicity. It's going to be between the educated and the self-motivated and those who aren't."
Kent Displays Cleveland State's Center for Economic Development Lorain County Community College's business training center Nortech One Community Team NEO