By: The Working Forest Staff
Lebanon, OH — Fecon recently hosted Senator Rob Portman, delegates from the United Way of Warren County, and students involved with Fecon’s apprentice program for a roundtable discussion on workforce development. Fecon has a long history with local high schools and technical colleges, providing training and meaningful, well-paying jobs while students are in school and after they graduate. The apprenticeship program allows students to work alongside experienced tradesmen and learn from mentors. There are regular opportunities to expand their responsibilities and their pay rate, as well as attend college or trade school, should they choose to do so.
“We recognize the importance of recruiting students early and showing them that manufacturing can be a viable and economically rewarding career path,” said Fecon President Bob Dieckman. “Our Human Resources, Engineering and Manufacturing teams have developed a great apprenticeship program, and we’re pleased to showcase this to Senator Portman and the United Way of Warren County.”
The program provides hands-on job training in real-world situations, plenty of feedback and coaching by job mentors, reviews every 6 months, and inclusion in all company-wide activities. In addition to hands-on job training, the first 6-month period includes small-group training sessions on various “soft skills” topics like following work rules, safety practices and procedures in a manufacturing environment, collaboration and teamwork in a fast-paced facility, and more. They also meet managers from other departments who lead discussions about how the student’s individual jobs and responsibilities directly impact other departments and the attainment of company goals.
Some specific career paths within the manufacturing field that Fecon focuses on are welding, inventory control within parts & service, and production. To further facilitate student learning and make the classroom lessons more tangible, student interns are partnered with a more experienced employee mentor who guides them through their time at Fecon. This partnership is especially helpful for female welding students who may feel otherwise underrepresented in the largely male-dominated field. Pairing female welders-in-training with full-time female welders working inside of Fecon continues to bridge the gender gap while preparing the next generation of female welders. Mentorships like this teach interns the ins and out of the craft and the company, creating not just a knowledgeable labourer, but an employee who understands the company culture – all before graduation and starting full-time work.
“I enjoyed my visit with members from the Warren County United Way along with their local partners at Fecon. We had a productive discussion about how best to ensure Ohioans get the skills training they need to succeed in the jobs available today,” said Portman. “Passing the JOBS Act will help ensure we make skills training more accessible and affordable. In addition, the signing of the China trade agreement and passage of USMCA are significant victories for American farmers, workers, and manufacturers, and they will create thousands of new jobs here in the United States. I was pleased to be able to visit with Fecon, a great local equipment manufacturer who will benefit directly from these trade wins.”