Columbus industries are working to fill skilled-trade openings and are willing to consider candidates with or without a college degree to meet their employment needs.
It’s that kind of job market.
Opportunities exist for assembly positions at well-known national employers such as Cummins Inc. in Columbus and Honda in Greensburg.
About 2,000 such workers in Bartholomew County already make an average of about $30,000 a year, according the state Department of Workforce Development.
Companies are eager to hire even more of them, and many are willing to provide the needed training.
Manufacturers were among 23 companies who met with 250 to 300 job seekers Wednesday at The Republic’s spring job fair at the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center.
Recruiters from other business categories — such as retail, health and the professional sector — also came looking for prospects, with dozens of jobs to fill.
In a county that typically has one of the state’s lowest jobless rates, it’s a buyer’s market for candidates with the right training, experience or enthusiasm.
A high demand exists for manufacturing assembly positions, jobs that 2,000 people already hold in Bartholomew County, making an average of about $30,000 a year, or about $14.40 an hour, according to state data.
Manufacturers such as Quality Machine & Tool in Columbus and Valeo in Seymour are looking to hire skilled-trade positions, many which don’t require a college degree.
Quality Machine & Tools, which performs contract machining and assembly, has been participating in Republic job fairs for several years. Vice President Billy Mullins said the fair is a great way for his company to connect with some of the best job candidates in the state.
“We’ve probably actually only hired 10 employees over all of the years,” Mullins said.
But there’s a greater urgency now.
“I’m looking at filling eight (positions) right away,” Mullins said.
He said his company spent nearly $2 million last year on new equipment, which will allow Quality Machine & Tools to continue growing.
Mullins said his firm is looking for entry-level employees with good math skills and would like to fill positions with as many Columbus area people as possible.
“We know that there’s more growth for 2014,” Mullins said. “We’re definitely busy and in a good place.”
Valeo, which produces and sell components, integrated systems and modules for the automotive industry, has about 30 immediate openings.
Recruiter Brent Upson said Valeo is seeking candidates with experience as electrical technicians, purchasing professionals or engineers.
One prospect at the job fair, recent Purdue University graduate Damon Davers of North Vernon, hopes the degree he earned in mechanical engineering will help him land a position soon.
Valeo was at the top of his list.
“They have jobs available,” Davers said — and in the automotive sector that he prefers.
Joe Frank, spokesman for WorkOne in Indiana, said manufacturing jobs, such as those at Valeo, are offering the most opportunities in areas such as Columbus, Lafayette and Indianapolis. He said some Columbus-based jobs offer the chance to earn $50,000 a year or more.
Statewide, Indiana leads the United States in the percentage of manufacturing jobs in the private sector, Frank said.
Cummins is looking to fill large numbers of hourly openings in production, technical, administration and skilled-trade positions, recruiter Beth Habenicht said.
But the region’s largest employer also is hiring higher-level positions for candidates with college degrees or advanced training.
“We do go through and review everybody,” she said. “We try to hire as many as possible.”
Frank said not all employers are looking for fresh college graduates to fill available jobs, however.
“(Some) employers today are finding that they’re not really interested in a four-year degree,” Frank said.
Those businesses are seeking candidates with training certification that demonstrate a knowledge of the job at hand, he said.
Anthony Wayne Services recruiter Denise Harris said her assisted-living company is looking to fill about 15 positions at locations in Columbus, North Vernon, Greensburg and Hanover.
Harris said most of the positions do not require experience or a college degree.
Her company has part-time and full-time jobs available, paying annual salaries up to $23,400.
“We get some great candidates from this fair,” she said.
For candidates who aren’t trained, that’s not an issue because Anthony Wayne Services provides extensive training, Harris said.
That kind of an opportunity was appealing for Danielle Heimlich. The 2012 Columbus North graduate wants to land a job that would allow her to provide care for people.
Among companies she talked with was Developmental Services Inc. of Columbus.
“Working with mentally handicapped people, helping them get along in life, is really what I want to do,” Heimlich said.
Having left resumes with a number of job fair recruiters, she now hopes her phone rings with an opportunity to interview for a position that fits her interests.
Her strategy is simple and straightforward.
“Get a better job, make some money and go back to school in the fall; that’s really what I want to do,” Heimlich said.
LOCAL JOB ASSISTANCE
A good local place for job seekers to start is the WorkOne office in Columbus.
LOCATION: 4555 Central Ave., Suite 1300