A high school diploma wasn’t helping D’Angelo Cook live the life he wanted for himself and his two children.
Unemployed and job hunting, Cook, 26, lacked the training to land anything but low-wage jobs. Working long hours for little money, while also attending an IT training program, was a real struggle.
Ken Taylor also faces a frustration. As president of Ohio’s main dealer of Caterpillar construction equipment, he can’t find enough people with the skills and 5 to 7 years’ experience to repair machinery for customers — even when offering $60,000 to $70,000 a year salary.
“If we don’t have the technicians, we are unable to provide adequate support to the customer for the machines or the engines that they purchased from us,” said Taylor, who heads Ohio CAT. “And if we can’t provide the support, that means that the customer will suffer downtime, which is costly to their business and their customers. It translates back to us because that is revenue that we are not earning.”
The entire region’s economy faces a mismatch, or “skills gap,” between what many job seekers know and what companies need. It’s also a prosperity gap. It traps potential workers in poverty and prevents the region’s economy from moving forward. And it’s about to get worse as members of the Baby Boomer generation retire.