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Michigan manufacturers tackle worker shortage by reaching out to students

NILES, Mich.-- Manufacturing companies across the country are trying to tackle the shortage of skilled laborers by reaching out to local students.

Around 1200 kids attended the 5th annual Manufacturing Day in Southwest Michigan where learned from local industry leaders about things made right in their backyard.

“It’s awesome. It’s just interesting to see how it all works,” says 9th grader Autumn Dulaney.

Students got to test out the tools themselves to get hands on experience.

“It’s really interesting because you typically think of a factory as old but when you come to this factory it’s like really new high tech so it’s really neat to figure out that there’s new stuff and that this isn’t just stuff of the past, they are still doing it,” says 9th grader Fred Siebold.

Tom Yoder with North American Forest Products says, while local manufacturers are growing, they aren’t exempt from the nationwide shortage of skilled laborers.

“The trade path for education can be lost lots of times and the manufacturing environment in our area is huge. Anytime you can get kids excited it’s exciting for us adults,” says Yoder.

Employers fear the $2 billion dollar industry for Southwest Michigan, could suffer from understaffing in the future.

“A lot of young people coming out of high school think the only way to go is through college and that’s the only way you’ll get a job. Maybe that was true in the past but not anymore. You can come to companies like ours and do very well in a short period of time,” says Tom Skalla, Niles Precision Company.


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