Find not only a job — but a career
Ask anyone trying to get their start in life, and they will tell you that landing the first job is the toughest. Fortunately, now is the best time in years to get that first step on the career ladder, especially for jobs in entry level manufacturing.
With 2015 being one of the strongest years for job growth since 1999, it is a great time to be a jobseeker. Jobs are plentiful, and wages in areas with high demand for workers often start at nearly twice the minimum wage and go up from there.
Although manufacturing took a huge hit in the Great Recession, it is roaring back in several communities, with lots of opportunities for entry level workers who show commitment and initiative to advance.
Communities with a large manufacturing base – like Sheboygan, Wisconsin – have shown strong growth, and it has a preliminary unemployment rate of 3.4 percent for May, the latest month the government has statistics for. Recently, Sheboygan topped a USAToday list of manufacturing centers for its low unemployment. It is definitely a great place for job seekers.
And low unemployment and economic growth is not just a blip. The Sheboygan metro area has been the second fastest growing area in the state of Wisconsin for the last two years, and it has added more than a thousand jobs each year.
Sheboygan stands out among other manufacturing centers in the number of closely held, family owned companies headquartered in the county. This has meant more stability than other manufacturing hubs because the families have strong ties to the region. It has meant more stability and more investment, which has meant they have rebounded strongly after the recession. That growth and demand for workers is translating into higher wages.
“In another fast-growing part of the state, entry-level manufacturing jobs requiring a high school diploma are paying $11 to $12 per hour. Here in Sheboygan County those jobs often start at $14 per hour and go up from there,” said Dane Checolinski, the director of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC).
To connect job seekers with local employers, The SCEDC has set up a website, Someplace Better. It has a job search feature, information about local employers, local housing, education and the local quality of life.
The site has more than 340 entry-level and above manufacturing jobs at area employers, including commercial kitchen equipment maker Vollrath, aluminum cast company Nemak, Kohler Co., Sargento, and Johnsonville Sausage.
Connecting eager job seekers with jobs
If you’re just getting your start or getting a fresh start and need some training, then there are training programs and support to help you get the job seeking skills you need.
For those with some experience and a work history in manufacturing, Seek Careers/Staffing Inc. of Grafton has developed the Trainable Fit program to identify entry level and semi-skilled job seekers who are ready to be connected with employers.
Candidates must score well on math and mechanical reasoning tests to be eligible for the program, and if they pass the tests and demonstrate a strong work ethic, they can be introduced to prospective employers.
Having a history in manufacturing, technical school education and good references will help.
Carol Ann Schneider, Seek Careers/Staffing founder and CEO, told the Milwaukee Journal that although the workers will require some training and some patience from employers, that companies had shown willingness to give the workers a chance.
Training and transportation available
Milwaukee area churches, such as the Greater Praise Church of God in Christ, have also started a program to provide training and transportation for workers in the city to travel to Sheboygan for work.
The Joseph Project, inspired by Robert L. Woodson Sr.’s book “The Triumphs of Joseph”, starts by giving job seekers a week-long course in soft skills including how to impress employers during job interviews and some of the basic skills they will need to be successful in their first jobs such as communication, time management, conflict resolution and other interpersonal skills.
Staffers of Sen. Ron Johnson help with the training and also with worker placement. He told Fox6 in Milwaukee, “We bring our Senate staffing here as a constituent service, put on a week-long training program. We put them to their paces.”
While the training sets participants up for success, there is also help available for job seekers in Milwaukee who want to take jobs in Sheboygan, but don’t have transport. The Greater Praise Church of God in Christ is now making 24 round trips a week, logging some 9,000 miles to shuttle about 50 workers back and forth to their jobs in Sheboygan.
The project has allowed workers who were underemployed or working temp jobs to get full-time jobs with better pay and benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings.
Some participants had given up on finding a job, people like Trayvonn Brown. He told Fox6, “(the program) was real life-changing. Seriously.”
And Sen. Johnson said that the jobs pay far above minimum wage, starting at $14 an hour and going up to $20 an hour.