Straight from the Source: Students at Elkhorn Area High School Recount Their Experience at the Second Annual Manufacturing Career Panel on February 26, 2014
Elkhorn Area High School posted the following post on Facebook on March 13, 2014 about the Second Annual Manufacturing Career Panel:
On Wednesday, February 26, approximately 200 students from five different schools settled into their seats at the Elkhorn Area High School auditorium to listen to four experts and one of their own peers address the career opportunities in the manufacturing industry. Our schools feel very fortunate to have had Brian White, President of Waukesha Engine; Hanan Fishman, President of PartMaker, Inc, (a software development company); Mary Isbister, President of GenMet, Mequon (metal fabricator); Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus; and senior, Brad Pearson, (manufacturing apprentice) share their insights on opportunities the world of manufacturing offers.
Each of the four speakers described their backgrounds, their journey to where they are today, various manufacturing processes, the skills and talent necessary to be successful in manufacturing, and the fast pace in which the manufacturing workplace is changing. They discussed with students the “skills gap”, which is the problem that many manufacturers are facing today in regard to maintaining a high-quality, high-skilled workforce. According to all four speakers, there is a huge deficit in the number of young people applying for jobs in manufacturing. Currently, the industry is looking for people skilled in Design Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Machinists, Welders, CNC Programmers, Fabricators, and Machine Maintenance. White mentioned that top machinists can earn up to $80,000 per year and that every manufacturing job generates four other jobs in other sectors such as health, IT, finance, etc. Both White and Reader stressed to students to make certain they are preparing for a career, not just for college; to make sure that their advanced education can help them secure a job, and to prepare themselves for life-long learning. They cited the fact that 70% of manufacturing jobs will require education beyond the high school diploma. Fishman backed up this fact by stating that what goes on in manufacturing today has a lot more to do with what goes on above the neck than below. Isbister reminded students that when hiring she looks for highly driven and ambitious job candidates; those who are committed to their jobs. She, along with the Reader, White, and Fishman stressed the importance of soft skills—reliability, communication skills, collaboration, self-motivation, positive attitude, and a willingness to learn.
Senior apprentice, Brad Pearson, spoke of his experience at Precision Plus and his appreciation for the opportunities he has been given by his mentor to learn all aspects of precision-turned component manufacturing (Facebook, 2014).