Competitive pay, room for advancement and jobs that include new technology and skills.
Those are the perks employers want to promote to draw students as young as 12 or 13 into certain career fields.
For local employers looking to attract a new workforce, one of the biggest challenges is overcoming the stereotypes of what a career in manufacturing looks like.
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“They are thinking of their grandparents, in an old dirty environment, but it has changed so much. A person can have and build an exciting career,” said Quincy Crabb, manufacturing engineer supervisor for Reman Operations, a division of Caterpillar.
That’s why local businesses are teaming up to show students, their families and the community what careers in skilled manufacturing look like at two upcoming events. Endress+Hauser will be hosting its career and education forum focused on STEM jobs, and NSK Precision America is having a manufacturing day to give students a look at jobs at their plant.
Employers view the events as a way to show students options for what they can do with their future, regardless of whether they want to attend college, and to potentially attract them as future employees.
This is the third year Endress+Hauser has hosted its STEM-focused event, which was started as a way to help schools, students and their families learn what skills employers are looking for in their workers, said Brandyn Ferguson, vice president of human resources for Endress+Hauser.
Endress+Hauser as a company and employer wanted to update people’s perceptions of what manufacturing looks like, especially advanced manufacturing, and teamed up with educators to do that, he said.
“We want them to know that working in a manufacturing company, aka a factory, is fun and rewarding,” he said.
“It’s not at all a backup plan or last resort.”
And the event allows employers to talk to more than just students, but their parents, too, he said. One benefit for parents is they can learn more about different careers, and be able to relate to their children why subjects in school, such as math or science, are important to learn, he said.
For employers, they can show parents why a career in manufacturing could be a good fit for their child, said Don Kinsey, facility manager at Reman Operations.
“Parents and grandparents may not be in touch with some of what we are doing in advanced manufacturing. We want to not only spark a light in the students, but to also get some backing from mom and dad,” he said.
At NSK Precision America, the company also plans on hosting its own event focused on manufacturing, and plans to bring in students who are juniors and seniors in high school. The goal is to show them what a job there would look like, including the starting pay, benefits and future career opportunities, said Erin Bieger, human resources generalist.
They also want to show students that going straight to work after high school isn’t necessarily a bad choice, she said.
“If you look at the numbers in this area, the costs of college, a lot of kids are not choosing not to go that route. But they don’t want to go into manufacturing, because they think it is cold and there is nothing there,” she said.
“Just because you start on our floor doesn’t mean you can’t move up in our company.”
And they want to show students they have multiple options for careers at local companies, such as in business and sales, engineering and safety, Bieger said.
That’s one of the benefits of the Endress+Hauser STEM event being geared at middle school students, employers said.
Schools are often pushing for students to make career decisions early, often in middle school, so their high school education can be tailored to that career, Kinsey said.
“The quicker we can get into these young adults’ heads and get them excited, the better,” he said.
Students need to know they have options, whether they want to go to college or not, said Steve Bahr, Duke Energy district manager for Johnson County.
“We need to do a better job of making them aware of the opportunities that are before them,” Bahr said.
College is a great option, but it isn’t for everyone. And students need to know other jobs out there are still good jobs that you can build a career and support a family with, he said.
“I have a four-year degree, but that’s not for everyone. There are opportunities — good opportunities — out there for people to pursue without that,” he said.
NSK Precision America is hosting an event to teach local students about careers in manufacturing:
What: Manufacturing day will give local students a look at manufacturing careers through three interactive sessions including a hands on activity, a plant tour and a careers presentation.
Who: Juniors and seniors
When: 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and 12 to 2 p.m. Oct. 7
Where: NSK Precision America, 3450 Bearing Drive, Franklin
RSVP: Visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CRTD2NF
Endress + Hauser is hosting a career and education forum to show students local STEM careers that are available:
What: The career and education forum will include informational booths from local employers and schools, factory tours and prize challenges.
Who: Middle school students and parents
When: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 6
Where: Endress + Hauser, 2355 Endress Place, Greenwood
RSVP: Visit www.tinyurl.com/CCEF2016