PIQUA — National Manufacturing Day was Friday and manufacturing jobs are on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment has been on the rise since 2010, going from 11,460 workers to over 12,300.
There are local efforts being done to meet the demand.
Honda North America Inc., in partnership with Ohio community colleges and public schools, initiated the EPIC program in March to provide educational and training opportunities for students as young as middle school age in the manufacturing industry. The program is meant to revisit students throughout their school and college careers to encourage them to invest in a career in manufacturing.
Edison State Community College has invested in the EPIC program beginning this year, and President Dr. Doreen Larson credits it, among other internship programs offered at the college, for the 11 percent increase in enrollment this year.
“I see those as immediate impacts on our enrollment,” Larson said, after stating that internships with Honda have doubled this year after the program started. “(Honda) really helps us to be more efficient. That area is really, I think, going to continue to see growth.” Between six major partnerships, Edison went from 8-12 interns to 42 interns this year.
EPIC stands for Enthusiasm, Passion, Innovative, and Commitment, with each term relating to the students’ grade level and expressing the phase the student is in on their manufacturing career journey. Enthusiasm is instilled into students in middle school, turning into passion in high school, experiencing innovation in college, and committing to the career after college.
“We have a special partnership with Edison that we don’t have with other schools … we offer incoming workforce an opportunity to further their training (with Edison),” said Scot McLemore, manager of technical workforce development for Honda.
Prior to EPIC, Honda and Edison had a partnership for several years. Edison provided additional training to Honda production associates who desired to be a technician; in return, students from Edison have had the opportunity to intern at Honda.
“I give (Honda) so much credit for their broad view of the economy,” Larson said. “They don’t just have a laser focus on Honda — they are concerned for the growth of southwest Ohio. They want to be a good community partner and have demonstrated that they mean that. They are not just totally focused on their business.”
“This initiative is geared toward creating interest in manufacturing as a career at the middle school, high school, and college levels, and then providing continued opportunities in the workplace,” said Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America. “We realize manufacturing has always been key to America’s economic strength and we want to implement programs that create opportunities not only for ourselves, but for every company with an interest in U.S. manufacturing.”
Honda has announced over a dozen $2,500 scholarships for students pursuing an associate degree in manufacturing or mechanical engineering technology from colleges in Ohio, with Edison being one of those schools.
Expansion of the internship program is also set to take place, based on the success of a pilot program at Columbus State Community College. The program will allow students to work three days a week at Honda while taking classes two days versus doing a 13-to-15-week internship and not taking college courses. Both options will still be available.
McLemore started as an engineer at Honda 25 years ago and expressed how much the industry is changing.
“(Equipment) was primary hydraulic to now being mostly electronic,” he said. “The way that the equipment communicates with each other is the most significant change. The techs and engineers that we need today and tomorrow need these skills to implement this kind of technology in order to maintain innovative and high quality products.”
Reach reporter Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.