CIRCLEVILLE — In an effort to highlight local manufacturing opportunities for students, all four county public school districts had students visit local manufacturers as part of Pickaway Manufacturing Day.
Christy Mills, executive director of Pickaway WORKS, said more than 130 students visited six area manufacturers on Oct. 4, including Aleris, DuPont, Kenworth, MidWest Fabricating, Ohio WillowWood and PPG. October is Manufacturing Month in the state of Ohio.
Mills said it was important for students to see what modern manufacturing looks like first hand.
“We want to help our students understand that these in-demand, well-paying careers are available right here in our community,” she said. “Events like this help raise that awareness, and also give our local employers the chance to showcase their business, inspire the next generation of workers and foster interest in modern manufacturing.”
The all day event began at the Pickaway County Fairgrounds inside Heritage Hall, where students heard from keynote speaker Jeff Spain from the Office Of Workforce Innovation at Columbus State Community College.
Spain spoke about employment opportunities and career paths available in modern manufacturing. Students were provided information about programs of study offered at Columbus State to become qualified for a career in manufacturing.
Steve Irwin, plant manager for DuPont’s Circleville site said they were happy to collaborate with Pickaway WORKS as a part of Manufacturing Day.
“Given DuPont’s significant future plans to grow our site’s manufacturing footprint and workforce, we are pleased to collaborate with Pickaway WORKS and other educators in our community to provide meaningful insights about the careers and opportunities available at our facility,” he said. “We offer fantastic careers, and want to help students prepare themselves to be competitive and to thrive in our roles.”
Ryan Scribner, economic development director for Pickaway Progress Partnership, Pickaway County’s economic development entity said that manufacturing is important to the local economy.
“We’ve had tons of growth in that sector in recent years and there’s tons of employment opportunities and careers in local manufacturing for people to take advantage of,” he said. “There are misconceptions about what modern manufacturing is. With the advancements in technology and work place safety it’s a different world than it use to be.
One of our challenges we have is to make sure the next generation of workers knows what it’s all about.”
Scribner, who also serves as board chair for Pickaway WORKS, noted how Manufacturing Day is all about ensuring that students are aware of what is available locally and what it could look like for them.
“It’s a fun day but it’s also to make sure the students know what local manufacturing looks like and that they can develop the skills while they’re in school to take advantage of those opportunities when they finish school and enter the workforce,” he said.
Scribner said part of the evolution of Pickaway WORKS from its former structure of college readiness is growing the career ready tract for students and ensuring the students are ready for whatever they do next.
“We want every kid to have a plan and idea of where they can fit in,” he said. “Regardless of what tract they’re going to take, if that means going for more education or straight into the workforce, it’s our job to make sure they understand it and are ready to take that tract.”