Toledo job market strong for local grads
This spring, about 4,300 students in the Toledo area donned caps and gowns in order to receive the fruits of four years of study: a college bachelor’s degree.
And while some may be forced to leave town to find employment, the bulk of the 2019 class of college graduates should find lots of opportunity in the Toledo area job market, experts said.
“The market is probably really good depending on what your expertise is. The field of engineering is always good,”
said Mike Veh, deputy director of the Lucas County Department of Planning and Development.
Chris Alexander, a 24-year-old medical school student at the University of Toledo, agrees.
Two years ago, he got his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from UT and was hired by Toledo’s Owens Corning before he had even graduated. He was transferred to Columbus but after six months he decided he really wanted to be a doctor, so he quit his engineering job to enroll in med school.
But opportunities for young engineers in Toledo are plentiful, he said recently while sipping coffee and studying at BREW coffee bar near UT’s campus.
“There was a career fair at the University of Toledo for engineers which has tons of companies, and a lot of them are from the Toledo area,” he said.
And, Mr. Alexander added, “I think most of the people and most of the majors at the University of Toledo look locally first. My girlfriend is an accountant and there are tons of accounting jobs, and I think that extends to business as well. I think the perception of the market in Toledo is very good.”
According to a recent 30-day list of online job postings for Lucas County, there were 1,178 total job ads for those with a bachelor’s degree as the minimum education level. The median wage for those jobs was $52,010.
Job openings, which ranged from 30 positions for those with degrees in social work to 116 positions for those with business degrees, included positions in the fields of mechanical engineering, computer science, marketing, business administration, finance, nursing, accounting, and engineering.
Salaries ranged from a low of $35,360 for social work to $71,400 for business.
“For business students, it was very good. Our students were placed both locally or in northwest Ohio,” the University of Toledo’s Terribeth Gordon-Moore, said of the job market.
Ms. Gordon-Moore, senior associate dean for undergraduate programs and administration at UT’s College of Business and Innovation, said 54 percent of this year’s business school undergraduates found jobs in the Toledo area while 72 percent overall found jobs in northwest Ohio.
“I’m very upbeat about it all. Campbell Soup and Marathon, they are doing a lot of hiring,” She said.
According to UT’s data, of the larger companies in town, Marathon Petroleum hired eight students; Schindler Elevator, eight; Owens Corning, six; PricewaterhouseCoopers, five; ProMedica, four; Dana Corp., four; Fifth Third Bank, three, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, two.
“Owens Corning, they hire a lot of people each year. And there’s jobs there that you may not even have been looking for,” Mr. Veh said.
He added: “Dana’s got a huge tech group here but you don’t think about that. If you’re into computer programming, you think Microsoft or Oracle. But we have a much more complex economy than most people think about or understand.”
Geology major Courtney Kinzel, 22, will graduate next year but is already hunting for employment.
“In Toledo, there are a lot of jobs for environmental science especially with Lake Erie being in the state that it is in. It’s really easy to get working with professors if you put in the effort,” she said.
According to data from OhioMeansJobs, the market for the northwest Ohio region is trending slightly upward. In February, the most recent month with available data, there were nearly 17,000 job openings in the region with approximately 16 percent of those openings requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher — a percentage that was slightly higher than 2018 but lower than the 2017 percentage.
“These numbers correspond with the data we’ve been researching as part of our talent alignment strategy initiative, as the majority of openings are found in the four main industries we’ve been focused on: healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation/logistics, and corporate/HQ jobs,” said Jeff Schaaf, talent attraction manager at the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Last month the chamber released its Talent Alignment Strategy for the Toledo area, an eight-month report of the openings and needs of the local job market.
It’s key finding, which should be good news for the UT, Bowling Green State University, Lourdes University, and Mercy College of Ohio grads who received their diplomas last month: The Toledo economy is growing and diversifying with demand outpacing supply in several key areas.
But the study also found a conundrum.
Data suggests that there are too many graduates being produced in some fields relative to the employment demand of the regional economy. Some examples: too many engineers, medical and health service managers, supply chain managers and analysts, and computer system analysts and web developers.
Yet the data suggesting a surplus in those fields is in direct contradiction with demand by employers.
“For example, in the Healthcare field data illustrates Registered Nurses are produced at twice the rate demanded by industry growth (757 graduates for 374 job openings),” the study said.
“Feedback from employers points to the exact opposite scenario — one in which they cannot fill these positions based on the current talent pool available.”
The study’s authors said that could mean this is trouble retaining these graduates or a potential mismatch in skills within those fields of study.
Mr. Schaaf agreed that, “While the jobs data is trending upward, there is still some work to do to retain graduates from BGSU, UT and Lourdes. Therefore, we continue to work with our local universities to ensure that students understand which companies are located in the region and what types of job opportunities those companies offer upon graduation.”
The retention issue is a harder problem to solve. A strong job market with lots of opportunities is not enough to keep some graduates in the area.
“A lot of things that are attractions in big cities, we have them here. …But sometimes it’s a good thing to get away,” Mr. Veh said.
That is the thinking of David Collins, 24, a mechanical engineering at UT who will be graduating next spring but isn’t planning to stick around.
“I expect to go to grad school before looking for a job. I’ll be looking at mechanical and design internships … but I wouldn’t be looking in Toledo though my experience has been that other people in my program have found jobs in the area or in Toledo proper,” he said.
Asked why he would pursue work elsewhere if the job market is good here, Mr. Collins had a simple answer. “I grew up here,” he said.
Posted By: The Toledo Blade on June 28, 2019.