In celebration of Manufacturing Day 2017, Mineral Area College’s North College Center opened its doors Friday morning to more than 200 eighth grade students from various school districts in the area.

Taking part in the day's events were middle school kids from the Bismarck, Farmington, Central, North County, Fredericktown, Valle Catholic, Ste. Genevieve and Perry County school districts.

The students took shifts in the center getting hands-on experience in the area of manufacturing while being provided information and tips from representatives of manufacturing firms throughout the region.

“Our organization partnered with Mineral Area College, local economic development and workforce development agencies, and many local manufacturers to showcase the outstanding career opportunities available in the manufacturing sector, as well the career pathways, skills and education that will be needed," said June O’Dell, President/COO of the Workforce Development Board (WDB) of Southeast Missouri.

“We planned this event to add insight about today’s manufacturing environment and draw attention to the outstanding opportunities that a career in manufacturing can provide. Some of our participating employers included Botkin Lumber Company, Piramal Glass, Holcim, Fibration System, and Mississippi Lime."

Activities included interactive displays from some of the area’s leading manufacturers, tours of Mineral Area College’s state of the art Advanced Manufacturing Labs, video presentations, and robotics demonstrations. 

According to O'Dell, there is an increasing demand for highly skilled professionals in the manufacturing sector who can design, program and operate technology.

“This is coupled with the fact that the average age of a manufacturing employee is 56, and between now and 2020 there will be an unprecedented shortage of skilled workers who will need to be replaced,” she said.

Sponsors for this local event included Workforce Development Board of SE Missouri, Mineral Area College, Cape Girardeau Area MAGNET, Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce, Perry County Economic Development Authority, SEMO Regional Industrial Training Group, St. Francois County Industrial Development Authority, St. Francois County Community Partnership, Ste. Genevieve Chamber of Commerce, Ste. Genevieve Industrial Development Authority, Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce and Culligan Water of Perryville.

Manufacturing Day is an annual national event and is co-produced by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Manufacturing Institute (MI), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). Partners include Edge Factor and the Science Channel and guest producer, Industrial Strength Marketing.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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