RUSSIA – Millions of manufacturing jobs with rising wages will be available to current high school students, Superior Aluminum Products President Doug Borchers told Russia High School sophomores Tuesday morning during the school’s Manufacturing and Career Exploration Day.
Superior Aluminum Products, O’Reilly Machine Tool Services, Francis Manufacturing and Voisard Tool Service each hosted 25 Russia sophomores for tours of their facilities Tuesday morning. Last week Superior and Voisard also hosted 32 Sidney High School students for National Manufacturing Day.
“You don’t have to move away if you don’t want to,” Borchers told the Russia students. “A lot of young people think, well, Russia is a small town. We live in a small county. Not many opportunities for young people here, I’ve gotta move away to the big city and get jobs. And we’re going to show you a little bit today that that’s not true. There are opportunities right here in our town.”
Borchers illustrated the growing demand for employees in the manufacturing industry with his company, saying Superior Aluminum Products needs young people to fill the jobs that are being vacated by retiring Baby Boomers.
“We have 50 people in our company,” he said. “Six of them retired this year. We’ve got another five retiring next year. So the old people are retiring, and there are 3.5 million jobs opening up in manufacturing over the next 10 years for young people like yourselves.”
While millions of jobs will be available in manufacturing within the next decade, recent graduates have bypassed those jobs for other opportunities, Borchers said. That combined with growth of manufacturing in the United States has created a significant demand for workers, he said.
“You guys are lucky,” Borchers said. “Over the next five to 10 years, there’s a huge demand for manufacturing jobs (and) a very low supply because young people over the last 10 years have not gone into manufacturing. They’ve gone into other types of careers, and that brings opportunity for people that are going into the business today.”
When companies compete for workers, as is happening in manufacturing, wages increase. Borchers said entry-level welders, for example, can earn more than $20 an hour and employers will even pay for their education.
“I know in my own company, we’re paying a lot more for an entry-level person today than we did five years ago because we need young people,” Borchers said.
Russia Local School Technology Coordinator Marcus Petitjean said the school has taken students to tour manufacturing facilities for the past five or six years. The experience is helping to change the perception of manufacturing, he said, and prompting more students to consider career opportunities in manufacturing.
“All the guys that led the tours, I had in class at Russia,” Petitjean said. “We’re starting to get more and more that are kind thinking about the opportunities.”
Borchers told the students there are hundreds of career opportunities available to them in manufacturing beyond the factory floor including in engineering, sales, marketing, accounting and human resources.
“There’s a lot of different career paths in manufacturing,” Borchers said. “So when a lot of people think of manufacturing, they think of the guy working on that machine or working on that assembly line. In the old days you had people building cars and they had one job; they put this bolt on and other part combined and they put that bolt on. That’s not manufacturing these days.”
The students encountered employees with four-year college degrees, some with vocational training and some with no education beyond high school.
“We want to expose them to different career opportunities and stuff that don’t require a four-year degree,” Petitjean said. “We want to just kind of expose them to the career opportunities around here and Shelby County.”
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