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Manufacturing Week kicks off in Elkhart

Monday marked the first day of Elkhart County’s Inaugural Manufacturing Week.

This week, over 600 students will visit local manufacturers where they’ll learn the ins and outs of working in that industry.

The industry is in a bit of danger, though.

There are plenty of job openings in manufacturing but not enough people to fill those positions.

The National Manufacturers Associations says nearly 3.5 manufacturing jobs will need to be filled over the next decade but many could go unfilled.

“2 million of those could go unfilled unless we address technical expertise and technical education,” said Chris Stager, Economic Development Corporation for Elkhart County.

This week, facilities in Elkhart County, with help from Economic Development Corporation, are opening their doors to hundreds of middle school students in an effort to produce the next generation of manufacturers.

“It’s important to start looking at choices, to make the right choices, it also allows them the ability to evaluate an office job versus a production job,” said Juan Ramon Cruz, Director of Human Resources and Safety for Dynamic Metals.

Dynamic Metals is one of dozens of local manufacturers participating in the county’s inaugural manufacturing week.

On Monday, Cruz was tasked with educating Pierre Moran Middle School students about the industry.

"10 more years before the workforce, that gives them time to make their minds up do I want to go to college and get an education or, join the workforce so that is the right age,” said Cruz.

There’s still a few years left before these students have to make that decision but today and all this week, they’re gaining unprecedented insight into their potential futures.

“We are trying to make sure kids are aware of the environment, how much we pay, different companies make different product, so they will have a choice when they continue to grow up, where to go,” said Cruz.

“We want to create a better pipeline for people to come into manufacturing down the road and hopefully this will start to educate students on the opportunities,” said Stager.

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