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Education, business partner to increase awareness of manufacturing jobs

April 28, 2011
By Jenny Lancour - staff writer ( , Daily Press

SCANABA - In an effort to make students aware of local manufacturing jobs so they can train for what's available and work in the area, a special partnership has been created between educators, companies and Michigan Works!.

The Upper Peninsula Regional Industrial Manufacturing Skills Alliance and Michigan Works! are increasing awareness of family-sustaining jobs in the U.P. through various activities, explained Robert Micheau of Michigan Works!.

On Wednesday, a group of local teachers from area middle schools and high schools participated in a tour at Engineered Machined Products, a manufacturing company in Escanaba. Representatives from area manufacturing companies will also participate in a Career Expo at the Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District today. Company representatives also visit schools to meet with students.

Article Photos

Rob Jensen, at right, an engineer at Engineered Machined Products in Escanaba, directs teachers on a tour of the company plant Wednesday. Local manufacturers are partnering with area educators, legislators and Michigan Works! to increase awareness of the need for skilled workers for local manufacturing jobs. (Daily Press photo by Jenny Lancour)

"The mission of the (manufacturing skills alliance) is to develop a highly-qualified labor pool to meet the current and future needs of the U.P.'s industrial manufacturers," said Micheau.

Paul Harvey, EMP's director of new business, stated, "Michigan Works! asked us to give a tour to teachers... The idea is for them to get up to speed with the type of jobs we have here so they can help steer students in the direction of manufacturing... Engineering and other skilled worker shortages are of great concern for manufacturers in our area."

Harvey added, "As a company, we feel it's important to be a good partner within our community. Helping kids explore career opportunities is just part of that effort. Teachers have influence over career-related choices and are key partners in this effort to inform the community and students about family-sustaining jobs in the local manufacturing industry."

Rachel Clough, EMP plant manager, told the teachers many people are surprised about how much high technology, such as automation, is taking place here.

But there is not a big pool of skilled workers to employ from the area so companies often hire from outside the region to fill positions, she explained.

That's why EMP is working with local schools, Bay College and MTEC to increase the number of skilled workers available to local manufacturers, she said, adding there are many career paths to choose from in the industry. There is also more likelihood a person hired from the area will continue working in the area, Clough said.



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