Our Workforce Challenge:
In Findlay-Hancock County (FHC), we are tasked with a unique workforce challenge. The county is adding jobs at a rate of one thousand (1,000) net new jobs per year for the past seven years. It is imperative that the county gets a handle on how we can increase the pipe to be able to support the economic growth and the smart growth that we’re having in the city. Raise the Bar, partners with educators, business leaders, and government officials in the area to introduce initiatives addressing the workforce gap. Our cradle-to-career approach ensures that students are being introduced to the numerous professional pathways in Findlay-Hancock County.
Findlay-Hancock County is a great place to both work and live in. Voted Top Micropolitan four years in a row, Findlay has beautiful housing developments, great places to eat, and a culture where everyone can feel part of the community. This unique culture has attracted employers both large and small to our area. Findlay-Hancock County is home to the world headquarters of Marathon Petroleum Corporation and Cooper Tire and Rubber Company. FHC is also home to numerous manufacturing facilities including Rowmark LLC, Nissin Brake, GSW Manufacturing, Whirlpool Corporation, and more. FHC has Blanchard Valley, a comprehensive health care system servicing the area. There are also 2 institutes of higher education in the area: the University of Findlay and Owen’s Community College. With all of the employment opportunities in the area, Hancock county boasts the 6th lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.1% as of May 2018. The unemployment rate has gone down in each of the past 10 years, showing positive reflection of the Findlay-Hancock County economy. Another way that Findlay-Hancock County has thrived is the steady increase of income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average income has increased in Findlay-Hancock County by over 6% in the past 4 years to $51,604.
With the tremendous growth happening in our area, it is imperative we have a workforce pipeline to ensure that business needs are met and citizens have fulfilling careers. Our goal is to make sure that students who reside in the area choose to stay for both employment and settling into housing. Currently, we have over 20,000 people who work in Hancock County, but choose to live elsewhere. There are also approximately 13,000 people that live in Hancock County, but choose to work elsewhere. With the need to fill meet our workforce demands in FHC, Raise the Bar collaborates with educators, business leaders, and government officials to bridge the gap and increase the number of individuals that choose to live and work in the area.
“Our strategy at raise the bar is a full continuum from a child’s earliest stages through adulthood. We also focus on helping adults get retrained and back in the workforce to fill those needs. Our strategy is long-term, but also helps fill a short-term workforce need in Findlay-Hancock County”
-Kimberly Bash, Raise The Bar Board Member
How Raise The Bar is Addressing Workforce Development:
Raise the Bar is committed to addressing and improving the workforce gap in Hancock County through a cradle-to-career approach. Raise the Bar collaborates between local businesses and educators to inform and empower students to stay in Hancock County to pursue career opportunities. The process starts as young as Kindergarten, when students are first introduced to the Leader In Me program. Implemented in 10 school systems county wide, students learn the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and develop soft skills such as leadership, communication, and team work.
In middle school as students are continuing with the Leader In Me program, they get to experience Dream It. Do It! Over 1,000 eighth graders county-wide travel to local businesses to learn about the vast opportunities in manufacturing. This unique opportunity is beneficial for both students and businesses in the area. Students get first-hand exposure to the innovative facilities in the area, addressing and helping to improve the stereotype that manufacturing is dirty, dark, and dingy. Students also can see that the area provides exciting careers in marketing, accounting, finance, sales, IT, and operations through this week-long program.
In high school, students are faced with the task of deciding what they would like to do post-graduation. Findlay High School offers a college day where Universities are invited to inform students about opportunities at their school. Raise the Bar, in conjunction with Millstream Career Center, started Career Day. This interactive event is similar to college day, but instead shows opportunities in the area that students can enter immediately after high school or with some training. The idea of the program is to showcase to students of the vast oppounities they have right here in Hancock County. Furthermore, the day allows for students to network with employers on the pathway to start their career.
Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) is a nationally recognized program based on Toyota’s Advanced Manufacturing Technician program. The program provides students the pathway to earn an industry recognized degree while gaining valuable experience at a manufacturing company. In five semesters, graduates of the program earn an associate’s degree, multiple certifications, and log approximately 1,800 on-the-job hours at a sponsoring company. If selected, students participate in the program’s 40-hour per week training program where they attend college two days a week, and work three days a week (at least 24 hours) at the sponsoring company. This program provides immediate, meaningful experiences for students at the sponsoring company while preparing for a career in manufacturing. Employers in the area have the opportunity to also hire these students full time upon completion of the program. This connection of education and business is helping to address the stereotype of what a career in manufacturing means while also bridging the workforce gap in Findlay-Hancock county.