Written By: Robin Reid
It’s a winning equation when you add high school graduates looking for a job with local companies needing workers because they equal a productive and prosperous future for Morgan County communities and residents. Thankfully, we have area business, community, and government leaders as well as educators investing their time and talent to connect employees to employers.
When local businesses can hire local people, it’s a win-win for everyone. Why? Because more money is invested and spent in our communities. There will be fewer people commuting out of county to go to work, so their dollars will support the local economy. More jobs can entice college graduates to return to their hometowns to work and start a family. This means more people moving into the county, paying into the tax base, and increasing funding for our schools due to higher enrollments.
Businessmen like Mike Garard, President of Aggregate Manufacturing International in Martinsville, has spent the last 30+ years working in Morgan County and it’s home to him and his family. “When I got out of college, I was looking for any place to work, but Martinsville. However, God had other plans. I started my own landscaping business until winter arrived, but I didn’t have a ‘Plan B’. So, I went to work selling laser printer cartridges and computer cleaning services. I had to wear a suit and tie every day and didn’t make very much money. The girl I dated, Claudia (now my wife), told me her dad heard about a job opening at J.W. Jones, an equipment manufacturing corporation for the mining (i.e. aggregates) and construction industries. I walked into their Paragon office and got a job making $7.50 an hour. Thirty days later, Mr. Jones gave me a raise and I was making $9.50 plus commission,” said Garard. “He gave me what I needed, an opportunity, and I learned a lot from him. Eventually, I decided to start my own company and we just celebrated AMI’s 20th anniversary.”
Local businesses such as AMI, TOA USA, Capital Adhesives, PacMoore, Overton Industries, and others need people to fill jobs such as machinists, die technicians, production, tool and die, and assemblers that pay higher than the $7.25 minimum wage. Some of these positions don’t require a four-year degree while others provide on the job training.
For example, there is a young man working at AMI who started as a janitor. Garard said even though this man had difficulties in high school, he had a strong work ethic, demonstrated patience, and was resilient despite his challenges. “He was always looking for other work to do after completing a task. We noticed it and he earned a promotion. First, we trained him to be an assembler and then he moved on to learn how to operate a plasma table, which is basically a robot. Every time he has received a pay raise, he has moved forward and now, he wants to learn electrical work and we’re going to help him do that,” added Garard.
There’s more good news. If you’re a present high school graduate without any secondary education, you can earn a short-term workforce certificate at Ivy Tech and full tuition/fees are paid for regardless of your income level. Indiana Governor Holcomb established the Next Level Jobs initiative and Workforce Ready Grant to help people receive education and training in five areas where job demand and wages are high.
Career Path Awareness Facts:
- The five workforce sectors covered by the Workforce Ready Grant are advanced manufacturing, building and construction, health sciences, information technology, and transportation/logistics.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Indiana Workforce Development reported in late 2018 the number of jobs in Morgan County per industry: construction (1,215), manufacturing (2,656), transportation/warehousing (221), and healthcare (1,620).
- Local high schools have guidance counselors, success centers, and other programs to educate students about numerous educational and job-oriented opportunities. The schools also partner with other organizations like Hoosier Hills, Central Nine and Area 31 Career Centers, and Ivy Tech where students can visit and enroll to learn different job skills.
- Martinsville High School has a Precision Machining Technology Program, guided by an advisory board of several local manufacturing companies, that teaches skills such as advanced machining and engineering. Mooresville High School offers a strong building and trades program for its students.
If you’re a high school graduate needing a job, a student who doesn’t want to go to a four-year college, or the parent with a child who’s not sure what kind of career they want, there are people, programs and places ready to help you plan and start towards a bright future.
Lack of awareness regarding alternative higher education and career opportunities is a real problem for students and parents. The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) has identified real solutions such as funding to implement career path awareness and coaching programs in our schools. Partnering with our community through private and corporate philanthropy makes these real solutions possible. Click here to give today and help change lives tomorrow.