“This camp is very tech-focused, exposing them to new technologies and trying to expose them to all these optional career paths,” said Rene Stratton, program coordinator for CareerConnectED. “We hook them up to the amazing, really fun things they love to do, and then we bring them together (to show) the jobs and career opportunities and the kind of path to get there. There is no set path, but we try to give them ideas to get there.
There have been recent investments in the region related to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and air mobility trials to attract more companies and agencies conducting research in both areas as well as the development of this technology. The hope is that the work will eventually attract manufacturing and distribution operations related to this technology to the region.
The airport has made progress in recent years to become more accommodating to companies developing this type of technology as well as those working on air mobility. Millions of dollars invested in new equipment and the construction of a National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport will help pave the way for more drone and electric take-off vehicle testing and vertical landing (eVTOL).
The UAS and eVTOL programs at the airport are expected to drive future employment growth in this field.
There were 682,800 Ohio employees in the manufacturing sector in April, according to the Ohio Department of Employment and Family Services (ODJFS). This compares to 662,800 last year, an increase of 3.02%.
Although there has been an increase in manufacturing jobs over the past year, the Labor Market Office projects that there will be a decrease of 4.6% by 2028. Annual employment in 2018 in the manufacturing sector was 708,692, with employment expected to be 676,267 by 2028, a decrease of 32 425 jobs, according to ODJFS.
In Clark County, 16% of people worked in manufacturing in 2019, according to the Office of Workforce Development, ODJFS. This is compared to 13.9% in 2010 and 16.1% in 2004.
Manufacturing is among the county’s top three industries, which grew from 5,843 workers in 2010 to 6,525 in 2019.
This camp has many community partners, including the Springfield City School District, Braxton Miller Foundation, Springfield-Bexley Municipal Airport, and Clark State College.
The office of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helped organize the camp, which is also the first My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Ohio camp in conjunction with the Springfield MBK Chapter. MBK was launched as a national initiative to address the opportunity gaps faced by young men of color.
“We want the technologies that will drive the next generation of economic growth and manufacturing in the United States to be developed in America and put people to work in well-paying jobs in America,” Brown’s office said in a statement. “We know Ohio has some of the best manufacturing talent in the country, we just need investment. These manufacturing camps help students see the opportunities available to them in these industries and give them hands-on experience for future careers.
Lashonda Miller, Executive Director of the Braxton Miller Foundation, said one of its pillars is education and STEM and that’s why they partnered with the school and Extreme STEM for this camp.
“Wanting to bring our mission to the Springfield area, we partnered with the Springfield City School District to bring it to the schools, to bring it to the kids where they are,” she said. “With the connections and the vision we have for STEM, bringing it to (school) with the kids and the resources they have, that’s what makes it a beautiful partnership…Together we’re creating something really amazing thing for kids.”
This camp helps students and employers develop their workforce, Miller said.
“What I love doing this week is the technologies that these kids are going to grow up in. It’s the technologies that are going to change their future. We’re giving them the skills they need when they’re kids so that as as technology advances, they’ll be ready when they become adults,” she said.