DARKE COUNTY — Area high school sophomores donned safety glasses and hearing protection Friday as they participated in the third National Manufacturing Day in Darke County.
Greenville Technology Incorporate (GTI), which makes plastic injection molding parts for Honda, was one of a number of Darke County manufacturing businesses hosting students.
Others participating on Friday included Whirlpool, Midmark, FRAM, JAFE Decorating, Ramco Electric Motors, and Fort Recovery Industries.
As the name implies, National Manufacturing Day is a nationwide event, drawing the participation of companies from all over the country. The event’s website (www.mfgday.com) explains the purpose of the day, typically held the first Friday in October.
“Manufacturing Day addresses 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 during and after Manufacturing Day, 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.” it says.
GTI Human Resources Administrator Casey Frazee said the company has participated in National Manufacturing Day for three years running.
“This is just to let students know what their options are locally. We want to make sure that they understand that it’s not just manufacturing that we have available, that there’s a lot of opportunities here,” she said.
Sophomores from Franklin-Monroe High School toured GTI’s facilities Friday morning, being led through seven different stations to learn about the processes and materials used there and given the opportunity to speak with employees.
Career Pathway Coordinator Lisa Wendel of Darke County Economic Development, said, “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. 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.”
“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,” she added.
Mike Bowers, director of Darke County Economic Development, was on hand to tour alongside the students at GTI.
“It’s to let all the sophomore in the county have the ability on Manufacturing Day to visit a manufacturing facility,” he said. “Just career opportunities locally that, if they’re looking for what their future plans hold, it’s not only necessarily a four-year degree. There are great career opportunities with our local manufacturing. The nice piece is, they can get in on the ground floor.”
“There’s a lot of career technical opportunities available,” he explained. “There’s the manufacturing side, but there’s also a whole lot more, with human resources, administrative functions, quality control, CNC machinists — it’s a whole myriad of things that you just want to make sure kids have the opportunity to see what they have locally. From an economic development standpoint, this is what we do each year.”
Bowers stressed the importance of manufacturer involvement and keeping young talent living and working in Darke County.
“Thank you to all the manufacturers who have participated today, because it is truly a great thing. We need to work to keep our talent local, and this is a very good step in that direction,” he said.
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