Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ernest Hooper: Women earning more through training in manufacturing jobs

Manufacturing isn't solely rooted in grimy jobs, many women are learning through the Manufacturing Alliance, a partnershipof the Hillsborough County Commission, Hillsborough Community College, Hillsborough County Public Schools and CareerSource. [Getty Images]


Manufacturing isn't solely rooted in grimy jobs, many women are learning through the Manufacturing Alliance, a partnershipof the Hillsborough County Commission, Hillsborough Community College, Hillsborough County Public Schools and CareerSource. [Getty Images]

Without aid of glasses, contact lenses or Lasik surgery, Hiroko Kato has clearer vision — when it comes to her career.

Kato is working in the local manufacturing industry, a prospect she struggled to reach until she took a special course offered in a partnership between the Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women and Hillsborough Community College.

Now she knows manufacturing isn't solely rooted in grimy jobs. Now she knows she can make something.

Now she knows women have a place in the industry.

"I didn't see it that way before," said Kato. "But many manufacturers prefer women because they have a greater attention to detail. It's not heavy-duty labor.

"I see things differently now."

Changing the perspective of women is one of the goals of the Manufacturing Alliance, a partnership made up of the Hillsborough County Commission, Hillsborough Community College, Hillsborough County Public Schools and CareerSource.

Manufacturers are seeking workers but often can't find those interested or qualified to handle the positions. That hasn't stopped them from searching for skilled applicants, including women.

"The women we have working here are fantastic," said Tampa Bay Machining Vice President Tammy Coe, who has been in the industry for 35 years. "I would love to see more women."

One of the keys is providing more training opportunities and an emphasis on correcting some misguided perceptions. It's constantly delivering a message to prospective employees — including high school students, men and women — that manufacturing no longer consists of the mundane jobs of past eras.

In short, it's about helping students view it in a new light.

"Manufacturing facilities today feature clean working environments, low noise levels," said HCC vice president of student affairs Ginger Clark. "It's often computers and robotic machines circling the floor. The workers are programming the computers and trouble-shooting the systems.

"They're using a higher skill-set level."

Clark said explaining the modern advancements, helping people understand the financial rewards (jobs typically start at $15 an hour and include ample opportunities to advance) and the sense of purpose that can come from creating tools such as medical devices have spurred interest.

Some progress has been realized in terms of drawing more women into the field. Kato spent her days in customer service until a friend raised her awareness about manufacturing and helped her get into a Certified Production Training program offered at the Centre for Women and taught by an HCC professor.

The instructor, as well as classmates with previous manufacturing experience, helped Kato understand the opportunities. Like others in the certificate program, she landed a job, survived the three-month probation period and is now focusing on expanding her training, perhaps in the field of safety or efficiency.

"I would say it's definitely worth a shot," said Kato, who works at Aqua-Cal.

Clark said additional training programs also have drawn women — a current online offering has drawn 39 students — and the success of the initial training has led the Centre for Women to set up an outreach annex at HCC's Brandon campus.

She said those who have completed training, including a number of single mothers eager to advance, are earning more.

"We still have a lot of work to do," Clark said, "But more and more women are starting to change the dialogue about what manufacturing looks like and manufacturing careers."

It helps that manufacturers have been quick to offer internships to college students and tours to high school students. It's all a part of building a pipeline from training to a livable wage.

"If you're mathematically inclined and take pride in workmanship, manufacturing is a fantastic option," Coe said. "It offers a lot of potential that's often overlooked because it doesn't sound glamorous."

Kato now sees the glamour and she's never viewed her career future with brighter eyes.

"We didn't see manufacturing as a growing industry," Kato said. "But it's actually a powerful industry right here. It's nice to have products that are made locally, made in this nation."

And it's nice to see manufacturing create opportunities for all.

That's all I'm saying.

Ernest Hooper: Women earning more through training in manufacturing jobs 08/17/17 [Last modified: Thursday, August 17, 2017 1:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays morning after:Matt Andriese trying to put good finish on injury-marred season

    Blogs

    RHP Matt Andriese can't make up for the 2 1/2 months he missed due to a hip injury this season after getting off to a solid 5-1, 3.54 start.

    But he can use his last few outings to remind the Rays, and himself, of how good he can be.
    He did it the hard way Thursday, allowing three runs as four of the …

  2. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Tampa Bay still has the lowest median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
[Times]
  3. Florida education news: Makeup days, accountability, charter schools and more

    Blogs

    MAKEUP DAYS: The Pasco County school district alters the daily schedule of 11 schools to make up teaching time missed because of Hurricane Irma, avoiding the …

    With students back in school after Hurricane Irma, schools across Florida begin scheduling makeup days for missed classroom time.
  4. How visiting a scenic Cuban resort can help save green sea turtles

    Wildlife

    The Florida Aquarium has been collaborating with Cuba's National Aquarium since 2015 to help save coral dying throughout Caribbean waters.

    The beaches of Cuba's Cayo Largo are home to a large population of green sea turtle nests. The Florida Aquarium will lead eco-tours of Cayo Largo next year that will help protect the turtles and fund research.  [Avalon Outdoor]
  5. Photo of the Day for September 22, 2017 - Willets taking flight

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from Dan Cleary of Madeira Beach, FL.