Julie Mockbee lost her job as a production planner at Johnson Controls at age 51, when the company closed her plant and moved to Mexico. Freshly unemployed after a 20-year tenure there, she immediately started looking for new work in manufacturing, a field that had been good to her all those years.
“I didn’t want a job that I had to take home with me,” says the Kentucky grandmother. “I wanted to go in, get my eight hours in, get paid decent money and go home.”
At the unemployment office, she learned she qualified for retraining, something she didn’t feel confident about doing at first. “I had been out of school way too long, I thought, to be able to do it,” she recalls.
But employment counselors encouraged her to apply for a training program in the Cincinnati metropolitan area, started by 26 women hailing from the education, manufacturing and nonprofit worlds. The founders of the program, called Raise the Floor saw middle-skill manufacturing jobs as a way for women to move out of poverty. According to 2016 data from the nonprofit Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), women hold fewer than 10% percent of jobs in the growing areas of advanced manufacturing and transportation/distribution/logistics.