Omaha jobs: manufacturing industry in need of workers, Metro Community College works to fill gap

The demand for people to go into the manufacturing industry is so high that employers are even offering incentives.
Good news for high schoolers thinking about their next move.
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 5:42 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Good news for high schoolers thinking about their next move. With the latest Nebraska unemployment numbers sitting at just 2.2%, and Iowa just above that, the jobs are there. For one industry, in particular, the demand for workers is high.

If you’re thinking about what’s next in your career, or maybe have a kid graduating high school soon, Omaha manufacturers need workers.

“You can go nationwide with it. Pick your job. Pick your salary, what you’re looking for. It’s just that in demand,” said Bryan Geise, adjunct professor at Metro Community College.

According to available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since the year began, there’s been about 860,000 manufacturing jobs available in America. The National Association of Manufacturers says it’s a lack of qualified people, people who opt for trade school.

“A four-year degree is not where everybody needs to go or wants to go. You can go out in this industry and make a very good living in this field,” said Rich Pollmiller, a plant manager at Malloy Electric. “Trade schools, two-year colleges. It’s all we need to get you started.”

Some of the 60 students at the MCC workforce development event Friday have already had experience in manufacturing in their high school programs. But the event just opened their eyes to even more opportunities.

“We’re trying to let them see the different trade programs that are available in manufacturing, and plant that seed at the high school level, so when they come out of high school hopefully they’ve already got some training under their belt. And we can transfer them over right to our industry partners where the jobs are,” said Jim Champion, MCC Pathway Coordinator.

Sparks flew for those who had a hands-on try as welders at the MCC South Omaha campus. They also sampled electrical and mechanical programming, precision machines, and robotics.

They say if you have certain qualities, you’d be a great fit.

“If they like to create things. They like to solve problems. They like to be on a team of people that designs and builds and repairs things,” said Pollmiller.

Owen Mann, a freshman at Blair High School, is interested in pursuing a career in manufacturing for some of those same reasons.

“I just like to build stuff. And hands-on stuff is really cool to me,” said Mann. “If I were to tell a high schooler today, I would say keep your eyes open. Be open to everything really. And try new things.”

The demand for people to go into the manufacturing industry is so high that employers are even offering incentives.

“There’s a lot of career paths you can go through at this college, where companies will help pay for your [college] career too,” said Pollmiller. “There’s so many companies that are in the Omaha area that will help pay for your school and guide you through, teach you what they do and what’s available for you.”

“That high demand right now and the lack of skilled trades. They’re willing to do a lot of stuff right now to get who they need in there,” said Geise.