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INDIANAPOLIS — It's no secret that manufacturing is a big player in Indiana's economy. It provides a workplace for 1 in 5 Hoosiers who earn a living in this industry. Indiana has the highest percentage of its workers in manufacturing compared to all other states.
But an issue looming over the businesses in Indiana, whether it be small shops or big plants, is the worker shortage in manufacturing.The state is set to lose a large chunk of its workforce in manufacturing due to retirements. In the next 10 years, Indiana is set to lose 40 to 45 percent of its current manufacturing workforce.
Now is a critical time to expose the next generation to the opportunities a career in manufacturing can offer, and that's why Manufacturing Day at Major Tool & Machine in Indianapolis is so important.
Major Tool & Machine is a contract manufacturer primarily working in supporting large, complicated machining and fabricated components in industries for aerospace, defense, power generation, and nuclear work. Their niche is large and complex parts.
"A day like this at Major Tool is absolutely critical for Indiana's future," Brian Burton, president of the Indiana Manufacturers Association, said. "We have such a need for folks to come into manufacturing. We are the most manufacturing intensive state in the country."
More than 1,000 students from across the state traveled to Major Tool for a day of career exploration.
This is the third year for this type of event and Major Tool invites more than 20 area businesses and educational partners to their shop to set up interactive booths for the students.
The idea is to be hands-on and show students how a career in manufacturing isn't dirty and dingy — it is high tech and often times high-paying.
"Their eyes light up. They get to see things," Burton said. "They may have driven by these buildings hundreds and hundreds of thousands of times but to come in and see the technology that is in here , this is world class. So if young people or anyone wants an opportunity in manufacturing — it's here."
Burton says the average compensation last year in manufacturing was $77,000 whereas for every other industry the average compensation was $44,000 annually.
While the public cannot bring cameras into parts of Major Tool's facility due to highly classified projects, they did open the doors to all of these students to show them their workforce development programs in welding and machining.
The welding training facility caught the eye of one Carmel High School senior.
"Yeah like oh my gosh, I looked at all this welding stuff and I was just like this is awesome! This is where I want to be at," Kerith Perry said.
Perry says she isn't a big fan of school so instead of college she is looking into other options for her future.
"Just right out of high school there's jobs for you that offer a good like career path and I just think that's a cool opportunity," Perry said. "I'm planning on going into the Navy just to get some experience with welding and all of that and then hopefully after that who knows there may be more job opportunities for me after that."
Perry strolled around the booths and said she enjoyed chatting with the folks from NASA who were in attendance at Manufacturing Day.
"What really caught my eyes was the NASA exhibits and all of that because I am a space geek and just seeing how much people — how like everyone in America comes together to build this to launch out of this earth technology and I think that's just really cool," Perry said.
Someone who knows about cool opportunities in manufacturing is Mike Griffith. He is the president of Major Tool & Machine and he started with the company straight out of college.
Now 25 years later, after working in a number of roles throughout the shop, he is in a leadership position and says they need people with the skills to do these jobs.
"There's so many open jobs right now, over 45,000 open jobs across the state in manufacturing and we cant get enough people," Griffith said.
Griffith said Major Tool is doing what it can internally by training people in welding and manufacturing through their workforce development programs, but the need is still great.
Events like Manufacturing Day help show the next generation of workers what a manufacturing career is all about, and that you can go get a college degree but you don't have to and sometimes your employer will pay for your training.
"And we're trying to do our best to show students in school today what manufacturing is all about because I don't think manufacturing is what they believe it is," Griffith said. "And really, these are high-tech jobs. They are high-paying jobs."
Griffith says students can get a job in this industry right out of high school and sometimes earn as much as a student with a 4 year degree, debt-free. There are many jobs in manufacturing that don't require a college degree and there are many that do. He says the opportunities are endless and this event helps to expose students to a wide variety of options.
For more information on jobs and opportunities available right now in manufacturing in Indiana, visit https://www.imaweb.com/
And to learn more about openings at Major Tool & Machine visit https://www.majortool.com.