It's one example at one location, but record enrollment at Auburn Career Center is a good sign for plastics manufacturing and other skilled trades.
Auburn is a vocational school for high school students based in Concord Township, Ohio. For the current academic year, the school has set a record with 899 students. That total includes 489 first-year students, 383 second-year students and 27 senior-only students.
Auburn is located about 30 miles east of Cleveland. In 2022-23, the school had almost 30 students in manufacturing programs, including some that went on to work at plastics businesses in the area. Those firms include Mar-Bal Inc. of Chagrin Falls and Mercury Plastics of Middlefield, both of which offer internships to Auburn students. Local manufacturing firm Swagelok Co. also has hired more than 20 Auburn students.
In 2022-23, Auburn added a certified production technician program that officials described as "a fast-track class into entry level manufacturing." Auburn also added a new manufacturing instructor in 2022-23.
Tool and die training given at Auburn can apply to plastics technologies such as injection molding and extrusion. The school's manufacturing lab has six computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines and 20 CNC simulators. In addition to manufacturing, Auburn has programs ranging from automotive technology to health care and emergency medical services.