National Manufacturing Day recognized in Darke County


DARKE COUNTY — Darke County will recognize National Manufacturing Day on Friday, Oct 7 when all Darke County Sophomores will tour one of our local facilities.

Participating manufacturers are Whirlpool, Midmark, GTI, FRAM, JAFE Decorating, Ramco Electric Motors, and Fort Recovery Industries.

“Manufacturing Day addresses common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show what manufacturing 2016 is and what it isn’t,” said Lisa J. Wendel, Career Pathway Coordinator, Darke County Economic Development. “Manufacturers will address the skilled labor shortage they face, the opportunities available, and connect with members of the future workforce.”

Wendel said, economic stability and growth in Darke County and higher living standards are largely dependent on the success of the region’s manufacturing base.

“While many recognize the availability of living wage jobs as one cause of this economic dependence, the other factor to acknowledge is that every $1 in final sales of manufactured goods supports $1.37 in other services and production such as transportation, finance, construction, and retail,” she said. “Every 1 job in manufacturing creates an additional 2.5 jobs in other sectors. No other sector does more to generate broad-scale economic growth.”

One of the biggest threats to the stability and growth of manufacturing in Darke County is the availability of a sufficient workforce to meet the current and future demands, said Wendel.

The shortage of skilled workers is a current reality and is expected to increase due to retirements, a negative image of the manufacturing industry among younger generations, lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills among workers, and a gradual decline of technical education programs in public high schools.

Besides learning that current manufacturers are not antiquated factories housing only low-paid, low-skilled workers, there are other goals for the event such as learning:

  • There are a multitude of diverse careers available through manufacturing requiring different levels of technical and formal education.
  • A career in manufacturing can be both lucrative and very satisfying. An average manufacturing worker in the U.S. earned $77,506 in 2013 – 20 percent higher than what an average worker earned in other industries.
  • Most manufacturers in the area will pay for college or technical training for their workforce if it corresponds to a position within the company.
  • There are other options after high school rather than just college or straight to work. There are technical schools and opportunities to work and attend further education simultaneously.
  • The soft skills of dependability, creativity, ability to listen and take directions, get along with others, and work hard that are so often taken for granted in this rural county are exactly the skills sought after by the employers in all areas of this country.

This is the third year that Darke County sophomores have been invited to tour local manufacturers on the first Friday of October. This event is part of a comprehensive effort to encourage and grow a skilled workforce to meet the current and future workforce demands of the region.

“Darke County is very fortunate to have collaborative programs between the largest employers and the school districts to encourage students to be lifelong learners and eventually return to Darke County to work and raise their families,” said Wendel.

Staff report

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