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Regional partnership aims to better connect educators to high-tech manufacturing

Connecting skilled STEM-school graduates with available, high-paying manufacturing jobs is the goal of many Ohio educators and factory owners. Helping to make that connection is the Central Ohio Manufacturing Partnership, or COMP. The organization’s goal is “increasing the number of qualified applicants available to manufacturers in the central-Ohio region” – an 11-county area home to 1,700 manufacturers employing more than 86,000 people. COMP’s stakeholders include manufacturers, schools, job seekers and various economic development boards.

To find out more about COMP, we contacted its board’s vice president, Scot McLemore. An employee of American Honda Motor Company in Marysville for 31 years, McLemore is currently on the Workforce Partnerships team within Honda’s Government and Industry Relations Division. He also is on Gov. Mike DeWine’s Ohio Executive Workforce Board and chairs the Ohio Manufacturing Association’s Manufacturing Sector Partnership Leadership Council, among other positions.

Q: What does your job at Honda – Workforce Partnerships manager – involve and how did that position lead to participation in the Central Ohio Manufacturing Partnership?

Scot McLemore headshotA: My role within Honda’s new Government Relations and Workforce Partnerships Division is to focus on workforce development and STEM pipeline activities with schools and colleges in partnership with related government agencies and industry associations. Honda remains committed to supporting the development of the workforce pipeline for the next generation.

Q: Tell us more about the Central Ohio Manufacturing Partnership – what it is, why it was formed and who belongs?

A: The Central Ohio Manufacturing Partnership, or COMP, is an industry sector partnership that formed to address the skills shortage for manufacturing careers. The partnership is a nonprofit organization formed in 2019 with membership from the manufacturing, secondary and post-secondary education, economic and workforce development sectors, as well as other government entities.

COMP’s mission is “To create a connected system to source manufacturers with qualified talent.”

Honda has been involved with COMP since its inception and was one of the founding manufacturing members.

Q: How does it benefit its members?

A: Through a focus on the creation of reliable, repeatable, sustainable and measurable processes, COMP provides several benefits to manufacturers including systems change in response to business needs, reduced duplication and system inefficiencies, maximized use of resources and services, support for manufacturers in filling jobs more quickly and creation of a pipeline for future workers.

Additionally, the influence of training programs and attraction of funding to the central Ohio area will provide better placement, earnings and benefits for job seekers.

Also, for central Ohio manufacturers, COMP provides quicker placement, higher skill levels and improved retention rates. In the education sector, it delivers higher enrollment numbers of students in struggling programs as well as a better understanding of needed curriculum to provide manufacturers with workers with desired skill sets.

COMP serves its members in Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Knox, Licking, Logan, Madison, Marion, Morrow, Pickaway and Union counties in central Ohio.

Q: How can teachers and their students best use COMP services?

A: COMP provides educators and students with information on manufacturing careers and education pathways that can lead to careers in manufacturing, particularly those in high demand for skilled workers. COMP connects students and job seekers with contacts to learning, training and development programs and available open manufacturing positions within central Ohio.

There is often a gap between the educational system and the manufacturing workforce, and COMP can serve as the “bridge,” providing information, connections and networking opportunities.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about COMP?

A: Collaborative partnerships such as the Central Ohio Manufacturing Partnership will play an important role in supporting individuals within the region who are interested in manufacturing careers by connecting them with the pathway partners (education, government and industry) to build a connected system of manufacturing skill development and employment.

Q: Finally, considering your involvement with the state and with COMP, has your job with Honda developed into more of a community engagement position?

A: My role continues to evolve as our organization has changed and our partnerships mature. As Honda has developed successful collaborations with specific educational institutions, others interested in scaling up our programs invite us to collaborate at the regional, state and even federal level.

Honda has always been interested in preparing and attracting the next generation workforce, not just for our operations but to support the development of talent for manufacturing as a whole. We view this approach as the most sustainable and best for all. I feel very fortunate to help Honda lead this work in this way.

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