Ohio Mill, Union and College Collaborate on Training the Next Generation of Steel Workers

November 20, 2011
The Republic (Columbus, Ind.)

CLEVELAND — With a revival of steel making in the Cleveland area and an aging mill work force, a steelmaker, the Steelworkers union and a community college are collaborating to train future workers.


At ArcelorMittal Cleveland, the average employee age is 57. And in Lorain, west of Cleveland, U.S. Steel is expanding and Republic Steel plans to build an electric arc furnace and hire 449.

"People with an electrical or mechanical skill set will soon be needed to replace retiring workers," Steelworkers Local 979 president Mark Granakis said in announcing the training partnership on Thursday.

The Steelworkers and ArcelorMittal will work with Lakeland Community College in Lake County northeast of Cleveland to offer a 2 1/2-year work-study program to prepare workers for the industry. The college will hold an open house for prospective students Nov. 30. Applicants must have a high school diploma.

John Russo, who studies labor issues at Youngstown State University, said the program could help the industry update its work force. "It reflects a graying of the work force in manufacturing," he said.

Manufacturing job cuts over the years have deterred people from looking to work in that field, but that may be changing, Russo said. "Given what's happened in the job market, people are increasingly willing to get skilled-up to work in high-tech manufacturing," he said.

Eric Hauge, vice president and general manager of ArcelorMittal Cleveland, said training future workers is important to maintain the company's global competitiveness.

The college will offer associate of applied science degrees in industrial electronics and in maintenance and repair concentrations. The program includes four semesters of classroom work and an option of 24 weeks of paid training at ArcelorMittal's steel operation overlooking the Cuyahoga River and downtown Cleveland.

The joint announcement said the program is intended to offer training sought by manufacturers throughout the region, not just the steel industry. The program begins with the spring semester starting Jan. 12 and expects each class to graduate about 15 students.

While stopping short of a guaranteed job with ArcelorMittal, the company's pitch to prospective students says "you'll have the tools you need to shape your own future. In fact, you could start at ArcelorMittal earning nearly $20 per hour."

ArcelorMittal launched its "Steelworker for the Future" pilot program in 2008 with Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana and Prairie State College in Illinois. ArcelorMittal has hired 18 of the 23 program graduates in the U.S. ArcelorMittal operates in more than 60 countries.

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