CLEVELAND — Carl Bailey was incarcerated for one year.
“Back in 2018, my mom had passed away. It was sudden. She had an aneurysm. So, I was 32-years-old and I was going through a lot,” he said. “I had got charged with aggravated assault. I was with the wrong people at the wrong time. You know, I wasn’t thinking straight.”
After his release from prison, the now 34-year-old was a man on a mission.
What You Need To Know
- MAGNET is a consulting group that works directly with northeast Ohio manufacturers to help grow the industry through job creation, collaboration, and diversity
- Year after year, surveys show the biggest hurdle for manufacturers is a shortage of skilled workers
- In 2019, the group brought several Cuyahoga County agencies and manufacturing leaders together to form a partnership called Workforce Connect Manufacturing
- According to MAGNET, in Cuyahoga County the manufacturing industry drives nearly half of the economy
“I came out wanting just to be a better man. Just make my mom proud,” said Bailey.
It was important to Bailey to be able to provide for his five children.
Right away, the Cleveland native got involved with Towards Employment — a nonprofit that helps job seekers find careers.
“Really can’t let my felony hold me back,” Bailey said. “I came home Oct. 2, you know, and it’s only what, Jan. 8 and I’ve been to school. You know, I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do.”
That commitment led him to join something new in his hometown called the ACCESS to Manufacturing Careers program, part of the Workforce Connect Manufacturing Sector Partnership.
He graduated from the program, and since November, Bailey’s been working at a fiberglass manufacturing company.
“Before this, I was a cook. I worked in downtown Cleveland. So, this is a brand new career for me, and every day I come to work excited,” said Bailey.
Bailey is now part of one of northeast Ohio’s leading industries: manufacturing.
In fact, in Cuyahoga County, it drives nearly half of the economy.
That’s according to 2019 data collected by MAGNET.
“Manufacturing is a great place to work. You can make good wages. It’s really stable,” said Adam Snyder, managing director of sector partnership at MAGNET.
MAGNET is a consulting group that works directly with northeast Ohio manufacturers to help grow the industry through job creation, collaboration, and diversity.
In 2019, the group brought several Cuyahoga County agencies and manufacturing leaders together to form a partnership called Workforce Connect Manufacturing.
Then in 2020, the efforts expanded into the IT and healthcare sector, too.
"Aggregate the voice of the employers and connect that with an aggregated voice of the workforce partners and education partners, and bring them together in a way to solve the gaps and the problems that haven’t been solved in the past,” said Snyder.
Year after year, surveys show the biggest hurdle for manufacturers is a shortage of skilled workers.
That’s where Workforce Connect and its diversity scholarships and training programs step in to help both sides. To help the companies find talent and give those reentering society a second chance.
“We’re expecting in 2021 to be placing a couple hundred folks in manufacturing at various levels of skill across those, across those various programs,” said Snyder.
Although COVID-19 caused layoffs and downsizing for local manufacturers like Alloy Engineering, president and CEO Lee Watson said the employee-owned company is better now than it was before because of the dedication to innovate and improve by becoming more inclusive.
"I would have been the first to say that we are not, we have no systemic racism in Alloy Engineering,” Watson said. “And then when I look at the demographics of our workforce versus the demographics of Cuyahoga County, there’s a huge disparity there.”
As a Workforce Connect partner, Watson said he plans to hire successful ACCESS graduates like Bailey in the future.
Bailey has a message for people like him.
“You can do it,” he said. “You can do it. I’m doing it. I do it every day, and like I was just down the road in prison in October and now I’m like getting dirty at work. So, I can’t even complain about nothing. Like, I’m happy.”