Tours help students learn about careers in the manufacturing industry

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MFL MarMac high school students learned about careers in the manufacturing industry last week through tours of M’s Machine and Manufacturing Co., Inc., and Art’s Way Scientific. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

In conjunction with Manufacturing Month, MFL MarMac high school students learned about careers in the manufacturing industry last week through tours of M’s Machine and Manufacturing Co., Inc., and Art’s Way Scientific, both in Monona.

The manufacturing industry plays a large role in Iowa’s workforce, employing 1 in 6 workers, or 13.5 percent of the state’s total employment.

Economically, advanced manufacturing is Iowa’s largest industry sector, adding $31.9 billion to the state economy each year. In the last 10 years, manufacturing exports have grown 78 percent, and currently account for 80 percent of Iowa’s total exports.

That growth is expected to continue, with 3.4 million manufacturing jobs likely to be needed over the next decade. However, only 1.4 million of those jobs are expected to be filled.

By celebrating manufacturing and offering tours to students who are set to join the workforce soon, manufacturers like M’s Machine and Art’s Way are hoping to stimulate interest in the field and fill a growing void.

The manufacturing industry offers a range of career opportunities, said Candace Drahn, vice president at M’s Machine, to the MFL MarMac students. Jobs include everything from production and machine operation to quote analysis and purchasing. Some careers require just a two-year degree, while others need a four-year degree or more.

Drahn suggested that students interested in manufacturing job shadow at places they may want to work, take courses in high school to prepare them for post-secondary education and talk to their counselor about career and college options.

Fifteen community colleges in Iowa currently work with the state’s manufacturing industry to provide specialized training solutions for the workforce. Over 6,000 students are now enrolled in courses relevant to the agricultural an construction machinery industry.

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