Manufacturers throughout West Michigan are gearing up for open houses and student tours that will showcase their facilities and career options. The tours are part of Manufacturing Week 2018, which runs from October 1-5, 2018. More than 100 manufacturers are expected to host more than 1,000 students during this year’s event.
“We’re always looking for more employers to host students and show them the kinds of jobs and careers that are available.” Jerry Hill, Discover Manufacturing coordinator, West Michigan Works!
According to Talent 2025’s 2017 West Michigan Talent Assessment and Outlook, manufacturing is the largest industry in West Michigan, accounting for more than 20 percent of all jobs in the region. Manufacturing has added more than 38,000 jobs since 2009, a growth rate of 33.3 percent.
Despite its significant presence and growth, manufacturing is facing a skills gap. With many older employees on the brink of retirement and fewer young employees entering the skilled trades, many companies in the region are expected to struggle to fill job openings.
“Manufacturing is so important to our West Michigan economy that we devote an entire week to activities that allow students to experience modern manufacturing,” said Jerry Hill, Discover Manufacturing coordinator, West Michigan Works!. “We’re always looking for more employers to host students and show them the kinds of jobs and careers that are available.”
Manufacturing Week is part of the nationwide Manufacturing Day® movement, created to dispel outdated images of the industry and to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.
“My freshmen students are able to experience and observe modern technology and equipment at Dicastal – one of the world’s cleanest foundry environments, which is only 20 miles from their homes,” said J. Mercer, a teacher with Tri County Area Schools. “Dicastal could have built their beautiful plant anywhere in the world, and they chose Montcalm County. Manufacturing Week shows students that they have abundant opportunities in their own backyard.”
“Collaborating with manufacturers [during Manufacturing Week] shows students all of the countless career opportunities available in manufacturing,” said Angie Huyghe, finance and human resources manager at Swoboda, Inc., a Manufacturing Week participant since 2015.