BENTON HARBOR, Mich. It’s no secret that over 20% of the manufacturing workforce in Berrien, Cass, an Van Buren counties is above the age of 55 and nearing retirement in the next five years. This means that Michigan Works! Berrien Cass Van Buren restructured Southwest Michigan’s 7th annual Manufacturing Day event with a new focus of filling that gap.
The 2019 local Manufacturing Day events were restructured to give over 150 junior and senior career and technical education (CTE) students the chance to showcase their academic programs and facilities to 30 local employers, and to begin building meaningful relationships that may result in a career in manufacturing. In addition, there was a networking lunch to follow the tours at all three locations.
“This week is the result of a lot of conversations with our local manufacturing employers. They start looking for talent nearly a year ahead of graduation time, so how can we facilitate that?” said Erin Venno, Sector Relations Coordinator. “We know that these juniors and senior CTE students have been part of the previous manufacturing day events, are aware of some of the opportunities that exist in manufacturing, but they may not have had the opportunity to connect with employers just yet- which is where we come in. This year provided that opportunity and started conversations that will continue throughout the year as these students get closer to graduation and starting their careers.”
“We have been part of Manufacturing Day over the last few years in partnership with Michigan Works! and this year was a prime example of quality over quantity,” said Baylee Makay, Human Resource Manager at Hanson Mold. “Manufacturing Day has traditionally been spent talking to thousands of students about what you do as a manufacturer, but this year- it was focused on finding our future workforce. I definitely made some connections with CTE students that I can see working for me in a year or two.”
Manufacturing Day is an annual national event that brings together manufacturers, students, teachers, parents, job seekers and other local community members to showcase modern manufacturing technology and careers. To learn more about the national movement, visit www.mfgday.com.
Michigan Works! of Berrien, Cass, Van Buren is part of a statewide network of workforce development boards. Michigan Works! specializes in educating, training, and employing individuals of all ages. We work with local businesses to find out what keeps them up at night and help them tackle the most pressing challenges they may face, including attracting and retaining talent. For more information, visit www.miworks.org.