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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2018

Manufacturing Day 2017: Changing perception of manufacturing jobs

Oct 02, 2017

DES MOINES — Manufacturing Day is focused on raising awareness of today’s modern and high-tech job opportunities in manufacturing, one of the largest employment opportunities in Iowa.

The day is designed to showcase manufacturing opportunities and change the misperceptions that students, parents, teachers and adults job seekers have regarding manufacturing careers.

IowaWORKS offices throughout the state have collaborated with community colleges, including Indian Hills Community College, and manufacturers to help coordinate and promote events.

Indian Hills will be partnering with 10 area businesses to raise awareness of manufacturing as part of the observance of Advanced Manufacturing Day.

According to Nathan Miller, work-based learning coordinator at Indian Hills, technological advances and changes in industry have transformed the way in which manufacturing work is performed.

“On [Friday], students will have the opportunity to experience firsthand the cutting-edge work being done in many communities in this area,” Miller said. “They will learn the history, see the various types of manufacturing processes, check out the products being made and the markets that are served, while touring these companies.”

The industry participants for this year’s Advanced Manufacturing Day include A.Y. McDonald, Albia; M3 Fabrication, Bloomfield; Winger Mechanical, Ottumwa; Johnson Machine Works, Chariton; East Penn Manufacturing Co. Inc., Corydon; Agri-Industrial Plastics Co., Fairfield; Hillphoenix, Keosauqua and Centerville; Axmear Fabrication, Sigourney; Atwood Electric Inc., Sigourney; and DeJong Manufacturing Inc., New Sharon.

Miller says very often communities are unaware of the significance of manufacturing and the ever-growing demand for a skilled workforce and the goal of this “day” is to inform students and educators of the opportunities that exist in this part of the state.

He adds that students who might be interested in taking part are encouraged to learn more by talking with their guidance counselor or a teacher at their school and registering for a tour. Counselors/teachers should RSVP with total number of attendees today to aj.gevock@indianhills.edu or 641-683-4279.

Industry tours begin at 9 a.m. Friday.

In August, there were 214,800 manufacturing jobs in Iowa, reflecting a growth of 1,400 jobs since August of 2016. Manufacturing is the fourth largest employment sector in the state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Iowa has the third highest percentage of its workers in manufacturing among all states at 8.4 percent. Wisconsin leads the nation at 9.3 percent followed by Indiana at 9 percent.

Because today’s manufacturing jobs require higher skills, Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state is focusing on training Iowans for the jobs of tomorrow through the Future Ready Iowa initiative.

“Manufacturing jobs are no longer repetitive production line jobs,” Reynolds said. “These jobs are skilled positions that require advanced training, certifications and education, which is the focus of Future Ready Iowa.”

The goal of Future Ready Iowa is for 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. Through the Future Ready Iowa initiative, the state has identified the top 10 job opportunities projected in Iowa requiring a certificate beyond high school between 2014 and 2024.

According to Iowa Workforce Development Labor Marketing Information data, four of the top 10 jobs with the greatest number of openings between 2014 and 2024 are jobs related to manufacturing: welders, cutters, solderers and brazers (305 annual openings); electricians (260 annual openings); industrial machinery mechanics (235 annual openings); and machinists (235 annual openings).

Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said Iowa is also focused on expanding Registered Apprenticeship opportunities in advanced manufacturing and encouraging more women, minorities, youth and people with disabilities to pursue Registered Apprenticeship Programs.

“Registered Apprenticeship opportunities are an employer-driven model that allows registered apprentices to earn a paycheck while they learn,” Townsend said. “We encourage manufacturers to explore Registered Apprenticeship opportunities as a solution for filling the skills gap.”


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