October 2nd, 2015 was National Manufacturing Day in America, and kicked off a month long celebration of those men and women that continue to build our nation each day. These hard working individuals dedicate their time, efforts, and bodies to turn out some of the most amazing products that help to keep America moving forward.
In a recent article provided by Postcrescent.com, 94% of Wisconsin metal fabrication businesses employ 50 or fewer employees. It is these small businesses that keep the state progressing. This statement is confirmed when looking at the employment growth in the state over the past 4 years. Average growth in the state has been roughly 3.3% in all other job categories. However, in the metal fabrication industry, there has been an 8.6% growth. Equating to over 12,800 new jobs being created.
With job growth on the rise, having the skills and training needed to conduct the required work is essential. One way to accomplish this task is to get youth interested and excited about the manufacturing industry. “There has been an increased need for young people to enter the field of manufacturing, due in large part to the retiring of so many skilled workers,” states Joanne Pella, Career and Technical Education Coordinator at Elkhorn Area High School. “That is why we continue to work on building partnerships with manufacturers in our community.”
Students from eight area high schools, including Williams Bay, Badger, Whitewater, Big Foot, Delavan, East Troy, and Elkhorn, went on tours at several Walworth County manufacturing companies. These trips allowed students the opportunity to interface with those in the industry, ask any questions they may have, and gain knowledge of potential working environments.
“Manufacturing is no longer dark, dirty, and dangerous. Most of the manufacturing that is thriving in our county, and our nation, is advanced manufacturing, which utilizes high-tech machines and equipment. You can practically eat off the shop floors of many of these companies, most of which are climate controlled,” states Derek D’Auria, Executive Director of Walworth County Economic Development Alliance.
D’Auria continues, “This industry pays very well. Many experienced CNC machine operators/programmers can make well over $50,000 annual incomes. And advance manufacturing provides career opportunities beyond working on the shop floor, such as management, marketing, technical sales, human resources, IT, and engineering. Many of these companies will pay for additional degrees and certifications. These are careers that are in high demand all over the country.”
Walworth County Economic Development Alliance partnered with the Wisconsin Job Center of Walworth County and Gateway Technical College for the 2015 Walworth County Manufacturing Job Fair, held on Thursday, October 29th. This job fair took place at the Gateway Technical College Elkhorn campus. There were approximately 15-20 employers in attendance looking to recruit new employees.
Job fairs, a growing interest of America’s youth, and a nationwide emphasis on building things ourselves, will contribute to the continued growth of the manufacturing industry. America was built with strong hands and strong minds.