Tech trailer gives students unique look at potential careers in manufacturing
The mass production of goods has been part of the American lifestyle for over a hundred years, but a host of partners are gathering at Great Plains Technology Center to show youngsters that today's industry, as GPTC Business and Industry Services Coordinator Kevin Henson says, "isn't their father's factory."
Friday is National Manufacturing Day, and to celebrate Great Plains is hosting a visit from the Pioneer Technology Center Manufacturing Education Training System (METS) trailer. Groups of elementary, middle school, SCORE and CareerTech students will be touring the mobile training trailer and talking about manufacturing career opportunities with staff Wednesday through Friday.
By celebrating World Manufacturing Day, students can see applications of their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) studies and how computer technology is infused in all levels of production, Oklahoma Manufacturers Alliance Extension Agent Bill Cunningham said.
Cunningham explained students often have misconceptions about the manufacturing industry; factories are not dark, dirty and dismal places with blue-collar workers scraping to put food on the table. They are places for stu-
See Manufacturing, 2A
dents to design, perfect and create products that touch our lives everyday. They're high-tech, and employers are needing more and more individuals with STEM instruction, experience and passion to fill a host of positions that are becoming vacant due to retirements.
"All these jobs require students to know how numbers work, how computers work," Henson said. The trick is finding students with that passion and setting them on a career path as soon as possible.
Another big issue, Cunningham said, is that students and parents or educators aren't fully aware of the career options that are right here.
"There are currently 3,900 manufacturing jobs available in the Lawton metropolitan area alone," Henson said. "There's about 210,000 jobs across the state."
Because of the investments that come along with industries, they all contribute to the economic health of our communities, Henson said, and these jobs allow citizens to stay right here and provide for their families. According to Cunningham, the average wage for all manufacturing jobs in the state is $43,047. For the 3,903 employees working in Comanche and Tillman Counties alone, the average wage is $74,458.
Many may be able to identify that Goodyear makes tires, but Henniges Automotive is in Tillman County. They have a contract to supply major auto manufacturers with rubber seals for car doors. Silverline Plastics and Gypsum is located in the area, as well, and they all want to recruit employees interested in living in southwest Oklahoma.
Cunningham said the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance is working with Cameron University, which recently began offering a 2-year applied sciences degree, to maintain internship options with local companies that want to recruit graduates with technical skills. If a student wishes to continue in a 4-year program, Cameron is right here to offer that as well.
"There's a great deal of stability there," Cunningham said.