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Mr. Bair asks students to handle and try to guess the lifting capacity of a Lift All sling during Manufacturing Day at Edward Hand Middle School in on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019.

It’s hard enough to decide on a career. It’s even harder when you don’t have enough information to know what’s important or what choices are open to you. Manufacturing Week aims to inspire students to explore and consider a career in manufacturing and to dispel the outdated picture of manufacturing as dark, dirty and unsafe.

School visits from local company representatives are one example of the many activities taking place all across the county. The goal is to give students an understanding of the options available to them as they begin to consider their futures.

In Tyrone Bair’s 7th grade class at Hand Middle School, Scott Trayer, BCI division president, and Steve Pacilio, president of Lift All, along with two Lift All employees, engaged the class with presentations, games, videos and lots of discussion. Both Trayer and Pacilio worked their way up the ladder in their respective companies and understand the rewards of manufacturing positions.

One topic focused on whether all manufacturing jobs were hands-on and if that type of employment was of interest. They learned that manufacturing requires people working in many different areas and as a team in production, customer service, purchasing, graphics and accounting as examples.

Education needs were addressed by Trayer and Pacilio who both said it depends on the position. Pacilio offered that Lift All is willing to train anyone in-house with the stipulation that you have to want to learn. “Your biggest asset is desire,” he said. “No one can teach you that.”

Another discussion focused on “firsts”, for example the first woman to be in a traditionally male-dominated position. Student Lindy Florian insightfully expressed to her male tablemates that being first at anything was scary, not only because you’re learning, but you’re also representing everyone who follows you.

At Pequea Valley Intermediate School two employees from Quality Custom Cabinetry shared their journeys from school to their current careers. While neither began either their education or employment thinking they would work in manufacturing, experiences changed the course of their careers with positive outcomes.

Andrew Danthua, QCC top coater, told students doing three things will lead to success. Show up, be a good team player and take initiative to help out, and learn from and take responsibility for your mistakes.

This year’s hands-on project at Pequea Valley was the construction of ten checkerboards that fit into a tray to form a board and double as building blocks. The toys, built by 120 students in one day, will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House.

Technology Education and STEM Instructor Jamiel Smoker views the experience as a way to give students exposure to manufacturing, learn about the many jobs they can do and help them answer for themselves if this is a career path of interest.

He also noted that after Manufacturing Week events more students indicate positive interest and those who do say no, say it more clearly. Tim Hess, assistant principal, observed that Manufacturing Week fits perfectly into the school’s goal of helping students achieve their first choice.

These sentiments are corroborated by Deloitte’s research on the effects of Manufacturing Day for participating students, particularly those with little or no exposure to manufacturing. Their 2016 findings show 89 percent were more aware of manufacturing jobs, 84 percent became more convinced that careers are interesting and rewarding and 64 percent are more motivated to pursue a manufacturing career. And students don’t keep their thoughts to themselves. After attending an event 71 percent are more likely to talk to their friends and family about manufacturing. You can learn more by visiting MFG DAY survey results.

These three companies, and many more like them, are looking for their next generation of employees. From BCI’s corrugated packaging to Lift All’s advanced lifting products and Quality Custom Cabinetry’s custom made cabinetry each facility constructs very different products, but they all do so in innovative workplaces with high tech equipment which require highly skilled workers.

A Pequea Valley teacher who worked in manufacturing for 17 years prior to starting her second career in education said that manufacturing employees need to be organized and able to communicate along with being skilled. “These are not lesser jobs,” she said.

There’s a place for everyone in manufacturing with a wide variety of positions and opportunity for career advancement. Manufacturing Week aims to give students the information and tools they need to make their own best decision about their future.