October 14 – Area high school students are getting an inside look at some of the major manufacturing companies in Decatur and Macon County today.
Over 80 students from Heartland Technical Academy started off with a tour of the Caterpillar facility before coming back to Richland Community College to meet with some of the participating companies in manufacturing.
ADM, Akorn, CAT, Carpenters Union, Dynagraphics, Mason Manufacturing, Midstate Electrical Training Center, National Foodworks Services T/CCI Manufacturing, Union Iron and Voestalpine Nortrak are all on hand to answer questions and sell their business model to the incoming workforce.
Community Marketing Manager with the EDC Nicole Bateman says the exposure to high school students now is important so they can prepare for those jobs in the workplace.
“In less than 15 years, 77% of the skilled baby boomers will be leaving the workplace so that’s going to leave a huge gap,” says Bateman. “There will be about two million jobs available nationwide and a lot of those will be in Decatur so we need to really make sure we are exposing the opportunities that we have so we can prepare the workforce for those jobs.”
Limitless Decatur, Economic Development Corporation and the Chamber of Commerce and the manufacturing companies organized the event at the Shilling Center.
Attending students also have another behind-the-scene tour of Decatur Industrial Electric to see the facility and meet with employers.
Senior at DeLand-Weldon High School Tyler Duff and Senior at Decatur MacArthur Ryan Boeckenstedt both attended the event today.
Boeckenstedt says after his tour with CAT that he wants to work with machines and Duffy wants to work in robotics.
Duffy says the tour enlightened him on the foreign market’s influence on manufacturing.
“There’s a lot of machines that are foreign and that shows that they are ahead of us,” says Duffy. “To me it shows that you always need to improve, you can’t just stay still. You always have to want more knowledge and that can give you the push to learn everything and keep learning and never stop.”
Boeckenstedt says he was blown away to find that an employee at CAT even after 30 years of work at the facility is still going to school.
“I thought that was extremely impressive,” says Boeckenstedt. “You’d imagine after 30 years you would have your craft down but it really shows that schooling and education is important.”