High school counselors see manufacturing jobs firsthand

Jacob2Donna Mueller knows college isn’t the best option for every high school graduate. But as a school counselor, it’s often difficult to show students it’s possible to have a good career without a four-year degree.

This year, Mueller was one of 275 school counselors statewide who spent a day touring local manufacturing plants to see how factory jobs can be an appealing option.

“People think it’s hard labor and that it doesn’t pay well,” said Mueller, who works at Fatima High School in Westphalia. “There are good-paying manufacturing jobs where you’re not walking out of there dirty from head to toe. That’s what we need to let our young people know.”

P1020689In early April, Mueller joined other mid-Missouri school counselors for a tour of two manufacturing plants in Jefferson City. The tours were organized by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which coordinates manufacturing tours for school counselors statewide.

One of the manufacturing companies that welcomed the school counselors was ALPLA Inc. At its Jefferson City facility, ALPLA uses advanced robotic machinery to produce plastic bottles for products such as shampoo and conditioner.

Mueller said she was impressed by the facility. She plans to use her experience at ALPLA to better inform students at Fatima High School about manufacturing careers.

“Kids like it when I can say, ‘I’ve been there, I’ve seen it with my own eyes,’” she said. “It gives more validity to my conversations with them.”

That’s the goal, said tour organizer Brian Crouse.

“Missouri manufacturers offer good jobs, but in many cases we are seeing a shortage of workers who are interested in even applying for these positions,” said Crouse, vice president of the Missouri Chamber‘s education programs. “The problem is many young people and their parents have misconceptions about what modern manufacturing looks like. We think reaching out to school counselors and giving them an opportunity to see today’s factories firsthand will begin to change these perceptions and help them better inform Missouri students about the careers that are out there.”

The Missouri Chamber is organizing additional school counselor manufacturing tours. For more information, contact Brian Crouse at bcrouse@mochamber.com or 573.634.3511.

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