By: Curtis Hankins, Quisha King

Last Updated: October 29, 2021

On Wednesday afternoon, Center of Workforce Innovations (CWI) and the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board brought together two dozen manufacturers from across the Region for their Manufacturing Industry Job Fair.

The event at Avalon Manor in Merrillville was attended by close to 400 jobseekers who visited with the manufacturers to learn more about the plentiful career opportunities available and immediate job openings.

Lisa Daugherty, CEO of Center of Workforce Innovations, spoke at a luncheon prior to the fair. She explained that CWI pulled together this job fair in order to address the manufacturing community’s biggest need–quality employees. “The manufacturers are very excited about this event because they’ve been very vocal, they need workers,” Daugherty said. “We want to work with these employers to help them build a pipeline of skilled workers. Folks don’t know where the opportunities are, even if they might be interested in some of them, so this is part of getting creative to provide that information to the job-seekers.”

CWI observed that manufacturers are facing a unique hiring challenge. They have plenty of well-paid positions with strong benefits. “Manufacturing is changing, it’s cleaner, there’s a lot more technology, and it requires higher levels of skills,” Daugherty said. “I think the public at large could really benefit from seeing how the manufacturing environment has changed and where the opportunities are. That’s where we come in and provide that information.”

Barbara Sacha, Chair of the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board and Labor Relations Manager at Cleveland Cliffs highlighted the scale of the need, and how essential events such as this job fair are. “The Northwest Indiana Workforce Board really saw the need to bring together employers for this event. With regards to our plan at Cleveland Cliffs, we are looking to hire over 250 employees,” she said. “Even then, we still need more because employees are retiring, and we need to replace them.”

Manufacturers of all kinds took part in the fair, from steel all the way to candy.

“This is an important event because job seekers need to find a place that shares the same value with them,” said Erica Yetta, Recruiter for American Licorice Company. “So, I think it’s cool for them to come out and talk with me and potentially work with us.”

“Manufacturing is considered one of our region’s high-demand industries,” said Barbara Grimsgard, Communications Director for Center of Workforce Innovations. “We felt that bringing our manufacturers together for an industry-specific job fair was the way to go, and  having these 24 manufacturers under one roof is pretty incredible.” Grimsgard said the feedback from employers so far has been overwhelmingly positive. “They felt they are in this together with regards to finding qualified candidates and their ability to network over lunch with other manufacturers was valuable to them,” she added.

Employers, educational institutions and resources at the job fair included Alliance Steel

American Licorice Company, Amsted Rail, Aristo/Catco, Carl Buddig, Chicago Magnesium,

Cleveland Cliffs, Continental, Daifuku Wynright, Howmet, JW Hicks, Kidstuff Playsystems, Metal Processing Corporation, Modern Forge Indiana, NLMK Indiana, Prime Conveyor, SMS Group, Southlake Automation, Steel Technologies LLC, Sullivan-Palatek, T & B Tube Company, Tradebe Environmental Services, U.S. Steel, Ivy Tech, Indiana Tech, Purdue University, Calumet Area Industrial Commission, and WorkOne.

For further information on CWI or how to participate in the next Manufacturing Industry Job Fair, contact Barb Grimsgard at bgrimsgard@cwicorp.com or 219-462-2940, ext. 1028.

View article on Great News Life