MFG Day opens doors to manufacturing careers

Karen

Manufacturing Day began in 2012 to draw attention to a major problem threatening the industry and the overall economy: the skilled labor shortage. Demand for manufacturing workers is on the rise. In the next decade, a growing economy will create 700,000 new manufacturing jobs, while an estimated 2.7 million additional jobs will come open as a result of retiring baby boomers. Manufacturers are looking to our youth to fill those vacancies, yet fewer and fewer students are choosing manufacturing as a career.

Manufacturing Day was created to reverse that trend, targeting the next generation of our manufacturing workforce by providing opportunities for students, parents, educators and the media to see firsthand today’s technologically advanced manufacturing facilities. On Manufacturing Day, hundreds of employers plan open houses, plant tours and career workshops to raise awareness about the excellent career opportunities in manufacturing.

“We have been doing these events for several years,” said Troy Pohlman, president of Component Bar Products in O’Fallon. “Our reasoning is pretty simple: We want to start reaching these kids in seventh, eighth and ninth grades and spark their interest. Then, when they get in high school, they can take that interest further.”

Component Bar’s work is paying off. The company hosted more than 500 students at its Manufacturing Day event last year.

“Ever since I toured Component Bar Products, I fell in love with machining,” said Elsberry High School student Tyler Collins. “The first time I saw a facility like this I was blown away. I had no idea what machining consisted of … it was kind of a shocker.”

Reaching out to the community stakeholders was part of the success of Toyota Bodine’s inaugural Manufacturing Day event in 2015.

“In addition to inviting students from the four school districts in Lincoln County, where our plant resides, we also welcomed school board members, our chamber of commerce and economic developers and really made this a community celebration,” said Charla Whalen-Mueller, external affairs specialist at Toyota Bodine.

Toyota used the event to launch a contest that challenged students to make videos that showed “what’s cool about manufacturing.” The contest generated thousands of views of videos featuring Toyota and other local manufacturing facilities.

“I think it is great for these kids to see that they can have a successful career outside of an office space,” said Drew Demanuele, engineering and design instructor at Lincoln County R-3. “They can see that using their hands and doing things they like to do can provide a successful career.”

Demanuele was the adviser for the team that took first place in the video contest.

As the state affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers’ Dream it. Do it. program, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is taking a lead role to promote Manufacturing Day and help our manufacturing members get involved. The Missouri Chamber produced a webinar to help manufacturers learn more about coordinating a Manufacturing Day event. The webinar is available at www.mochamber.com. Additional resources can be found at www.mfgday.com.

If you have additional questions about Manufacturing Day, contact Brian Crouse, Missouri Chamber vice president of education, at bcrouse@mochamber.com or 573.634.3511.

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