October was Manufacturing Month and Kyndle celebrated in a big way. Whitney Risley, Kyndle’s Manager of Existing Industries and Workforce Development partnered with interested manufacturers and high schools to coordinate manufacturing month tours. Manufacturing Month and Manufacturing Day, which was October 5, addressed common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. By working together, manufacturers will begin to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.
Participating industries, which included Audubon Metals, Allstate Tower, Big Rivers Electric Corp., Hercules Manufacturing, Pittsburg Tank & Tower, Pioneer Plastics and Shamrock Technologies, opened their doors to 92 students from Henderson, Union and Webster Counties. This allowed students the opportunity to get an inside look at the products made in the Kyndle area and what jobs are available after they graduate high school.
The tours were a great opportunity for students to see all sides of local production, from initial raw materials to final products ready for shipment, and the type of industry that they could potentially be a part of in the future. It also allowed the students to experience different types of work environments that they may never had the opportunity to explore.
“For the third year in a row, Allstate Tower a PTTG company, has opened our doors to high school students for Manufacturing Day. It was a pleasure interacting with the students”, said Chris Hunt, Plant Manager for Allstate Tower, “I was impressed by some of the questions that were asked while on the tour about the different varieties of structures we build.”
Kevin Aguilera, junior Manufacturing tech who plans to attend HCC and work in the Manufacturing Industry shared, “I was impressed with our local industries commitment to employee safety.”
The participating manufacturers used these tours as a tool for their workforce development needs. Management team at these industries discussed open positions, wages, and skills needed to fill those positions. Pittsburg Tank and Tower Group took it a step further by making each student a PTTG business card with the title of ‘employee prospect.’ This was a big hit with the students. During a recent visit to one of the high schools, a PTTG representative noticed a student pulling out his business card and reminiscing about the tours.
Hayden Krampe, senior Engineering student at Henderson County High School, who plans to pursue an Engineering degree, stated that after touring Shamrock Technologies he was encouraged to come back home after college. Krampe said “I now know I may have options to be able to bring an engineering degree back home because Henderson is where I want to stay.”
Henderson County High School Career and Technical Education (CTE) students from industrial pathways including Auto Tech, Manufacturing Tech, Welding and Engineering were fortunate to participate in tours. “This opportunity to experience an up-close view of some of the region’s industrial companies, provides students with real life examples and an understanding of how quality production occurs,” said Stephen Welch, HCHS CTE Career Coach. After chaperoning the tours, Welch concluded the most important take away from this experience is that students got a chance to see how the skills they are learning in the classroom and shop translate to excellent future career opportunities.
A group of Webster County High School Advanced Technology Center (WCHS ATC) students toured Pioneer Plastics in Dixon. While there, the students learned about how injection molding is done before taking a tour of the facilities. They were also able to see final products that have been produced for recent clients, as well as take home a plastic product as a memento.
Jon McNeily, Advanced Integrated Technology (AIT) instructor at WCHS ATC states, “it is always nice for the students to hear directly from the employers about what is expected from a job and what it is like to work in that environment opposed to just hearing it from teachers."
At Kyndle’s recent Industry Appreciation Luncheon, where Rich Dauch, President & CEO of Accuride spoke, it was highlighted that Manufacturing is the largest sector and the sector with the highest job growth in the Kyndle area. Manufacturing Month helps advocate and bring awareness to this sector. As the growth in manufacturing continues, it’s important for manufacturers in our area to participate in events such as these to inform students on the jobs available in the manufacturing sector. Thank you to all the manufacturers and schools that participated this year.