ELYRIA, Ohio - In Illinois Wednesday, President Barack Obama spoke of bringing back manufacturing jobs to the United States from overseas and overhauling education by lowering costs and helping students gain more relevant skills.
The two items are very much connected and on display at Lorain County Community College.
As the president spoke, a small class of five met as they do every day, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The students are not your typical college types, they're older and in many cases wiser to the ways of the present economy as all have been laid off, some for more than a year.
They ended up here through Lorain County's Employment Network after taking a test that said they'd be good candidates for CNC or Computer Numerical Control training.
"Fabricating of metal is what it is," said student Tim Leighliter. "You make programs on the computer and then you transfer it into the machine and that machine will cut all kinds of parts for you."
Some have background in manufacturing, others do not. Eric Buhser came to the program after working in telemarketing.
"A lot of that is finesse," he said. "But this actually gives you a concrete skill that is in need."
"We've already been told that certain people come from places that have hired here before. They'll come to our graduation and kind of talk with us and feel us out and we can feel them out as well," Buhser said.
The most surprising thing about going to school for many of the students was it wasn't like going back to school.
"Especially with the instructors we have it's more like play - it's fun," said Timothy Shroyer.
That, LCCC leaders say, is important because the biggest obstacle facing many students entering programs like this is fear.
"Their self-esteem is somewhat shattered from the job loss," said Krista O'Neill LCCC's coordinator of counseling. "It takes a lot of bravery to move on and move forward but sometimes those doors that close provide wonderful opportunities for students."