OHIO — Intel needs thousands of people to help build new leading-edge chip factories in Central Ohio, an initial investment of more than $20 billion.
This includes plumbers, pipefitters, electricians, sheet metal workers, iron workers, laborers, cement finished and even elevator constructors.
At the peak of construction, Intel said about 7,000 workers will be on site, but Mike Knisley, the executive secretary and treasurer with the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, said he thinks there will be even more.
“We estimate that there will be between eight and 10,000 craft people around this area working directly related to the Intel construction,” Knisley said.
But mass retirements and resignations from the Baby Boomer generation have left the U.S. in a nationwide construction worker shortage. Ohio has about 100,000 skilled trade workers within its 137 different trade unions. To keep up with the increased demand for work, Knisley said the trades council is doubling, even tripling their recruitment efforts, as Intel isn’t the only major construction project in the state that they need to supply.
“Recruiting fairs, organizing, direct entry, veterans, previously incarcerated,” Knisley said. “All the stops are being pulled to get people to come to our trades.”
He said about every two weeks they’re at a job or career fair somewhere in the state talking to people about what a great career the trades can be.
“You'll get great satisfaction out of it, you're actually building something in the area that you live in, or you can go across the country and take that same skill set anywhere in the United States, really around the world, and help be part of something,” Knisley said. “You can look back over your current site and say I helped build that. And it's really, it's really something that gives you a sense of pride and satisfaction.”
At the Plumbers, Pipefitters and Service Technicians Local 189 Training Center in Columbus, many apprentices, including Tim Marcum, a second-year apprentice, are excited about the possibility of working for Intel in the coming years.
“The apprentices in my class are very interested in working out there, trying to get the certs that are needed to be out there,” Marcum said. “It is a little competition between everybody. Everybody's trying to learn as much as they can as fast as they can. So they can be out there working.”
Rich Manley is the training director at Local 189. He said in the past year, curriculum has changed immensely, including the addition of state-of-the-art machinery, new classes and the instruction of Intel-specific protocols, specifically around cleanliness and sanitation. The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, the International Union that Local 189 is affiliated with, has invested $1 million to help prepare the local union to supply Intel with competent and skilled tradespeople.
“They said we want you guys to be successful, and they gave us these three orbitals," Manley said. "And I guarantee you, you will find no other training center in Ohio that has three orbitals. There's quite a few techniques and certification, certifications we're going to need to be successful at Intel and this is just one of the rooms where we're tackling that right now with all these orbital machines.”
Manley said because of their recruiting efforts, Local 189 has already doubled its apprenticeship roster.
“I'm ahead of the curve. I do not sit on my hands,” Manley said. “There's so much work. I have the numbers, I have the apprentices, we have the apprentices, we're gonna be able to service not only Intel, but all the data centers, Ohio State University, Hyperion, the new hydrogen technology plant that’s coming, Honda and all their needs. We just keep bringing the apprentices in, train, train, train. The journeyman, bring them in, same thing, train them, and get them out to these great job sites.”
Manley said worker demand is expected to increase this summer as Intel continues to make progress with construction. He said the trades in Ohio aren’t just preparing to meet expectations, but exceed them.
“Without a doubt, there's no other project like this right now going on,” Manley said. “This is going to be the largest Intel plant, right? Not just United States, but in the world. This is new for everybody. Okay. And the newness, it brings a lot of excitement. But it also brings, you know, obstacles. But I think, you know, with our planning and our brotherhood and sisterhood and the training, that we're going to remain on top and stay on, stay ahead of everything.”
Knisley said all the trades are in need of people, but specifically electricians and pipefitters. To learn more about the trades, click here.