The steel industry is vital to our country’s economic and national security.
The backbone of machinery and tools, bridges, skyscrapers, railroads, automobiles and appliances, steel is also at the core of the world’s green economy, where economic growth and environmental responsibility go hand in hand.
It is the most recycled material on the planet. In fact, all steel is 100 percent recyclable and more steel is recycled each year than aluminum, copper, paper, glass and plastic combined. It’s also the main material used in delivering renewable energy – wind, solar and tidal.
Based on 2012 figures, the US steel industry operates over 100 facilities employing 153,700 people and producing steel shipments valued at $75 billion. Beyond that, it is estimated that every job in the American steel industry supports another seven jobs directly or indirectly.
ArcelorMittal is the world’s leading steel and mining company. With their US and Americas’ headquarters in Chicago, the company employs more than 18,000 hardworking people across the US with 21 integrated, steel-producing, finishing and mining facilities.
Safer and cleaner than ever, modern steelmaking is built on advanced technologies that produce precision products of the utmost quality with the smallest possible environmental footprint. As the industry has advanced in terms of efficiency and automation, jobs tend to require higher levels of skill and education. As a result, the men and women who work in the steel industry are its greatest asset.
A strong, sustainable industry with growing opportunities, steel’s future is bright. However, skilled people, prepared to conquer today’s challenges and be innovative into the next generation are desperately needed.
“Manufacturers across the United States, including the steel industry, are confronting a critical workforce challenge. Thousands of skilled workers will be needed in the coming years to fill vacancies left by retirees,” ArcelorMittal USA’s Division Manager of Raw Materials Gary Norgren, who has full oversight of the workforce training initiative, said. “Several years ago we were looking for new ways to bridge our external hiring and in-house hourly training. Since all of the large apprenticeship programs were phased out in the late ‘80s, we were looking for a new way to rebuild that pipeline.”
Faced with an aging workforce and a shortage of educated candidates, ArcelorMittal USA followed the lead of sister facility ArcelorMittal Dofasco in Hamilton Ontario which partnered with Mohawk College in Toronto on a similar workforce development initiative. The Canadian program was recognized for building a community that is stronger, healthier and more resilient in tough economic times where it is necessary to reinvest and reinvent. ArcelorMittal USA introduced its Steelworker for the Future® craft training program to our region in 2008.
“Ivy Tech Community College was instrumental in the launch of the US program,” Norgren said. “Now it has grown to include partnerships with 10 different schools geographically located near our facilities in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.”
The two-and-a-half-year associate degree program includes four semesters of classroom training at a partner community college or technical school plus 16 weeks of paid, on-site training at ArcelorMittal. During the on-site portion of the program, students have the opportunity to apply what they learn in class while earning credit toward their degree plus enough in wages to pay for their tuition, according to Norgren.
“Graduates of the Steelworker for the Future program, receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in either a mechanical or an electrical technician concentration,” he added. “While it is our aim to attract people who are interested in coming to work for us, graduates will have a degree they can take elsewhere. We certainly hope to be the employer of choice, but we also understand the importance of having other options.”
With the tools necessary to shape their own future, Steelworker for the Future graduates can start at ArcelorMittal earning more than $23 per hour with attractive vacation time, medical benefits, a 401(k) plan and profit sharing.
East Chicago resident Kevin King has been employed as a Tundish Technician at ArcelorMittal Riverdale since graduating from Ivy Tech in 2011 with his A.A.S. in Industrial Mechanical Technology.
“I learned about the Steelworker for the Future program in 2009,” he said. “I was in the process of completing a maintenance department internship when the company I was working for closed. I was looking at different degree programs - at Ivy Tech and other area schools. The fact that ArcelorMittal was a partner at Ivy Tech helped me make my decision. My father retired at ArcelorMittal, and the Maintenance Technician Mechanical (MTM) program was very similar to what I was doing before.”
While it was always King’s plan to work for ArcelorMittal, he was still required to interview for a position.
“The program does not guarantee you a job, but it gets your foot in the door,” he added. “The fact that the courses and the internships gave me a great deal of experience with the work was very helpful. The Steelworker for the Future program allows you to pursue opportunities that wouldn’t be there otherwise. I’ve been talking to a lot of my friends about going through the program. It’s a big step, and they’re not really familiar with it. But, when I tell them they can go to school and have it pretty much paid for with a paid internship and then be right there to be employed by ArcelorMittal, they are definitely interested.”
To be considered for the Steelworker for the Future program, you must have a high school diploma (or equivalent) and pass an entrance exam at one of the participating colleges.
Then, during the program you will learn how to perform all functions (mechanical or electrical) necessary to maintain all operations and service equipment using standard and specialized tools and equipment, make (mechanical or electrical) repairs as required in connection with their (mechanical or electrical) service, operate equipment in conjunction with repairs, provide assistance in operating functions as necessary to keep equipment running and coordinate work in conjunction with Operating and Service Technicians in the performance of maintenance tasks.
With further education and experience, there are also dozens of other opportunities open to you, both inside and outside the steel industry.