Opinion: Honda looks to keep auto workforce strong

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Ray Paoletta is a senior political science major. Contact him at [email protected]

Ray Paoletta

There was once a time where two respectable paths to a career existed. Someone could take their talents to the university, earn a degree and work in a white-collar industry, or they could go to vocational or two-year college and find a career in a blue-collar industry. Today, blue-collar work has a negative stigma. There is a false idea that those who learn a trade do so because they are not smart enough for college.

Blue-collar work is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the country. An estimated 40 percent of new jobs by 2017 will be blue-collar mid-skill and well-paying jobs, according to USA Today. These jobs range from $13 an hour to even six-figure salaries, all without a four-year degree. The problem today is that young people see the university as the only path to a successful career and many of these jobs will go unfilled. In order to prevent this, Honda has taken action right here in Ohio.

Honda announced a $1 million initiative in Ohio to support workforce training. The initiative, called the EPIC initiative, was created due to Honda’s concerns that its current workforce will become outdated or the number of mechanics and laborers will fail to reach demand. The goal of the initiative is to build an enthusiasm in middle and high school students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. 

Marysville Early College High School focuses its curriculum on STEM fields and already has a partnership with Honda. EPIC will look to build partnerships between Honda and other businesses, high schools, middle schools and two-year colleges to place an emphasis on technical training and manufacturing. Furthermore, the initiative will give students opportunities to work hands-on in labs while in school in order to better prepare for jobs after completing school.

This Honda initiative aims to increase the number of skilled, blue-collar workers in the workforce and keep their training up to date in a world of always changing technology. There will always be a need for manufacturers and mechanics, and right now, there is a shortage of both. 

As the USA Today article points out, these types of jobs pay well and are respectable careers. If our nation wants to bring back manufacturing and keep existing manufacturing operations like the auto industry, then companies like Honda need to continue to put an emphasis on educating people about blue-collar work and making sure they have the right training for the job. Going to college to earn a four-year degree is not the only way to earn a respectable income. A strong economy is a diverse economy, and efforts should be taken to make blue-collar work, such as manufacturing, a strong sector of the economy.