By Katherine Collins and Parker Perry - Springfield News-Sun Staff Writer
High school students across Clark and Champaign counties visited local manufacturers on Friday, in an effort to educate students about the job openings available in the area and connect businesses with potential workers.
The visits were part of Manufacturing Day, recognized nationwide by the U.S. Census Bureau. The industry is the fourth largest employer in the country, according to the bureau.
Manufacturers across Ohio have had trouble filling open positions because of the drug epidemic. Many workers can’t pass a drug test, said Jeannie Seery, human resources manager at the McGregor OSMI Plant in Springfield.
“We face that every day,” she said.
The plant wants to let students know they don’t need to leave the area to get a good job.
“We hear so often that the kids in Springfield just want to get out and go other places,” Seery said. “We want them to know that Springfield is viable and the community needs them to stay here.”
And she wants students to be motivated to avoid drugs.
“They’re getting into it at such a young age … they can’t do that and be able to go into a job,” Seery said.
A group of students from Springfield High School visited the OSMI plant on Friday as well as the Yamada plant. In Champaign County, about 140 students from Triad High School and other county schools visited multiple manufacturing companies.
It was an eye-opening experience for Springfield High student Diane Meslam.
“I thought that Springfield didn’t have many job opportunities but I found out that they do,” she said.
Other students, like Springfield senior Tyler Carter, said he appreciates having a better understanding of the workplace.
“I really got to see what it’s like to work in a hands-on job and industry like that,” he said.
Marcia Bailey, with the Champaign County Economic Partnership, said having high school students explore manufacturing before they graduate shows them what type of careers available in the area.
“We have so many job opportunities in manufacturing here in Champaign County,” Bailey said. “It’s a career choice, not just a job. We want the kids in Champaign County to know what type of skills they need to get these jobs.”
Urbana High School Senior Jessica Beveroy said she’s interested in accounting and wants to find every opportunity that might be available to her. She’s open to working for a manufacturer.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” Beveroy said of the event. “I can see a lot of opportunities.”
Graham Local students also explored the manufacturing industry on Friday. It’s important for students to start thinking about potential careers as soon as possible, Graham Middle School Assistant Principal Nick Guidera said.
“Here at the middle school, we were able to bring in 12 business partners and explain everything to opportunities that range from prosthetic design, 3D printing, welding, there were plenty of different opportunities,” he said.
Even the younger students, like Graham eighth grader James Pelfrey were interested in learning about manufacturing.
“I found it pretty interesting,” he said. “I like it because you get to create something out of pretty much nothing.”
Springfield manufacturers wante to attract local students.
The Springfield News-Sun digs into important stories about jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent stories on local unemployment rates and how driverless cars might impact Navistar.
By the numbers
11.4M: Workers in manufacturing nationwide
4th: Largest industry in the U.S.
$56,000: Average annual pay for manufacturing employees
$639B: Payroll for the entire manufacturing sector nationwide
Source: U.S. Census Bureau