There needs to be a change in the perception of manufacturing work if local employers hope to fill open
How to accomplish that was the topic of last week’s Business Advisory Council meeting, attended by county
superintendents and area business representatives.
“There is a hurdle for us with parents, even with the idea of going to Penta. There is the perception
that manufacturing is a dirty word,” said Francis Scruci, superintendent of Bowling Green City Schools.
Parents are pushing kids to go to college, he said, adding the four-year college route is not for
There is a negative perception by parents of factory work, said Mark North, superintendent of the Wood
County Educational Service Center, which organized the Business Advisory Council.
“It’s not the manufacturing of our grandparents,” he said.
One idea is to market the tuition reimbursement offered at many businesses.
Jim Witt, superintendent at Lake Local Schools, suggested instead of saying tuition reimbursement, use
the term “scholarship.”
For parents who may not want to brag that their child is going into industry rather than college, that is
“To a parent, that doesn’t close the door to college,” said AJ Haas, with CMC Group, who is also a member
of the Eastwood school board. Then it is the mindset “I still can go to college and I can have it paid
If they take advantage of tuition reimbursement, “by the time they finish school, they are debt free.
They have a career already,” said Eduardo Quintero, with NSG Pilkington North America.
North said a high school graduate could go into manufacturing, make $16 an hour, earn an associate degree
in two years and a bachelor’s degree in six, and be debt free because the employer paid for the
Quintero also suggested a “signing day” for a trades job – similar to a signing day for college or the
“That’s a great idea” Witt said.
Penta Career Center has done it for students joining fire departments and the military but is now looking
at doing the same for graduates going straight to employment, said Superintendent Ron Matter.
“It’s a long-term commitment everyone needs to get engaged with,” he added.
Everyone agreed that youngsters need to be taught life skills, including the responsibility to come to
work every day and show up on time, plus basic interview skills.
“The interview skill set has diminished,” said Northwood Schools Superintendent Jason Kozina.
Several school districts offer a life skills class to address those concerns.
Bowling Green City Schools does an interview skills day for its junior class, and Eastwood teaches both
resume and interview skills.
“We’re teaching kids these skills, some are really good at it, some are not,” said Brent Welker, Eastwood
Matter said it is great to do mock interviews, but the skill still must be honed. If it is not taught in
every class, it won’t work, he said.
Getting in front of both parents and students also is important.
“It would be nice to talk to them individually,” said Karen Hannah, with TH Plastics.
“If any of you have interest in coming in and meeting with our kids over our lunch period, you are
welcome,” Scruci said. “We want to expose our kids as early as we can to that idea.”
Bowling Green Middle School holds a manufacturing day, as does Penta.
Focus also should be made on younger students, not juniors and seniors who already have their minds made
up, panel members said.
David Imbrogno, with NSG Pilkington Rossford, said that his company visits sixth-grade classes in
“They’re much more engaged than the high school kids,” he said.
“The earlier with can get you in front of these kids, the better,” Scruci said.
It was suggested hosting employees after school, so both students and parents can visit.
“We have to convince the parents almost as much as we have to convince the kids,” Imbrogno said.
Getting parents over the stigma of manufacturing is “a big piece of the pie,” Witt agreed.
Scruci said districts should consider getting teachers on board with various job opportunities
“Do our teachers fully understand what opportunities exist?” he asked. “If they’re not sharing this
message that you don’t have to go to college to be successful. … I think that’s our mindset as
educators, trying to push kids that way.”
The next meeting, with counselors, teachers and principals, will be held June 7 at 9 a.m.