Manufacturers across Indiana are hosting groups of high school students in their factories this week as part of an industry push to connect young people with manufacturing careers.
Students from Carroll Junior-Senior High School visited Ball Manufacturing in Monticello and Subaru of Indiana Automotive.
They finished their day at Kirby Risk in Lafayette. Workers there make electrical systems – miles of colorful wires, twisted by hand across plywood panels and through braiding machines.
It’s not exactly what Carroll junior Damon Malott wants to do when he grows up, but it’s close – he plans to be a commercial electrician, like his stepfather.
“Electricity in general is pretty cool,” he says.
Manufacturers with lots of openings and high turnover rates want more students to turn those interests into careers – especially those who may not want to go to college.
“We’ll train them. We’ll give them extra incentive to go back to school if they want to do that,” says Kirby Risk president Doug Mansfield. “We’ll do whatever we can, because – guess what? Some of us are getting older, and our workforce is declining.”
Kids on the tour asked about wages, and what Mansfield looks for in employees. He says most of all, he needs workers who show up on-time, drug-free.
To that end, a few Indiana schools, including Carroll, have introduced optional “work ethic” diplomas for graduates. Students can also earn career certifications through school.