by Kelly Rogge
High school students from Kansas City, Kan., and Leavenworth spent some time recently learning about what types of manufacturing careers are available to them through Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Manufacturing Day.
The 2014 Manufacturing Day event was a first for KCKCC-TEC, which hosted it Oct. 2. Started three years ago as a grassroots initiative to overcome the challenges of finding skilled labor for manufacturers, the day is designed to address the public perception that careers in manufacturing are undesirable. Both of these problems stem from a lack of understanding of present-day manufacturing environments, which are highly technical. This event allows manufacturers to open their doors to show prospective employees what opportunities they have. This is a nationwide plan to continue to draw awareness to the manufacturing industry and to showcase the benefits of choosing a career in the field.
“One of the biggest challenges for manufacturers across the country is finding that skilled labor,” said Tiffany Stovall, representative with the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center in Kansas City. “This is a grassroots movement of manufacturers who are dedicated to address this shared challenge.”
Close to 100 students from five high schools – Wyandotte, Washington, Harmon and Schlagle high schools in Kansas City, Kan., as well as Leavenworth High School, attended the day-long event, hosted by KCKCC-TEC. Students had the opportunity to tour the General Motors Plant and A&E Custom Manufacturing, representing manufacturers on a large and small scale. They then had lunch with manufacturing professionals who talked about what their jobs are like and what students need to do to gain such employment. These positions included an engineer, machinist, CAD/Designer, welder, electrician, industrial maintenance and an assembler/fabricator. The day ended with a tour of several KCKCC-TEC programs including machine technology, HVAC, major appliance and welding, among others.
“This was a whole brand new experience for many of these students,” said Donna Shawn, director-Perkins coordinator at KCKCC-TEC. “What we were doing was really opening their world. As the boomers start retiring, there is really going to be a shortage of skilled labor. We want them to see that there are plenty of opportunities for them out there with the right education and training.”
KCKCC’s event was just one of dozens throughout the state of Kansas in October. Nationwide, more than 1,500 companies will be participating. The event is co-produced by the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International; the National Association of Manufacturers; the Manufacturing Institute, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Industrial Strength Marketing.
“What we want is for students to be exposed to the variety of careers in manufacturing and begin considering the industry as a career path. These may be paths that they otherwise may not have considered,” she said. “As more people begin talking about this effort and how the manufacturing industry is hurting for skilled labors, I think there is more interest in events like Manufacturing Day. Manufacturing is screaming that they need help, and we are beginning to shape students’ visions of what kinds of opportunities there are out there for them.”
For more information on Manufacturing Day or to see other events occurring, visit www.mfgday.com. For more information on programs available at KCKCC-TEC that relate to manufacturing, visit the college’s website at www.kckcc.edu or call 913-288-7800.