Career awareness event to highlight creativity, innovation in manufacturing

In West Michigan, manufacturing accounts for 19% of all jobs, with workers earning 31% more in hourly compensation – between wages and benefits – than comparable workers in the rest of the private sector.

In Ottawa and Allegan counties, the impact is even greater, according to labor market data. Manufacturing makes up 30% of all jobs, and worker pay is 32% higher.

The upcoming Discover Manufacturing Week will highlight the potential of this career path. 

During the week of Nov. 9-13, the career awareness event will showcase modern manufacturing creativity, technology, and innovation to students and educators with virtual activities. Discover Manufacturing Week is part of the national MFG Day (Manufacturing Day) initiative.

“Virtual Discover Manufacturing Week 2020 will look and feel different, but it will continue to provide an opportunity to deepen students’ career exploration,” says Jerry Hill, the Manufacturing Industry Sector Lead with West Michigan Works! “Discover Manufacturing Week celebrates the manufacturing industry with events for high school students that showcase the facilities, technologies, and people who make the products that enrich our lives and strengthen our economy.”

Scholarships available

Six 2020 Discover Manufacturing Week scholarships, valued at $500 each, are available to high school seniors pursuing a manufacturing-related career in Michigan.

West Michigan Works! asked Grand Valley State University film students to create interactive, virtual Discover Manufacturing Week experiences for West Michigan high school students. 
Using the Zoom platform, Discover Manufacturing Week will host 10 “virtual block parties.” Each event will feature four manufacturers and host up to 3,000 students. The webinars, a combination of employer presentation, facility tour and a question-and-answer session, will be recorded and uploaded to Discover Manufacturing’s YouTube channel to provide access to a broader group of students and the general public. 
“The new virtual format illustrates just how flexible and agile manufacturing can be,” Laura Preuss, Manager of Workforce Development and Human Resources at DeWys Manufacturing in Marne says. “We get to showcase what we have long known — we are creative, innovative, and motivated to better our industry. This year, we as manufacturers can really show that in ways students don’t often get to see.” 

‘Pulling the curtains back’

West Michigan is home to more than 2,500 manufacturing companies.
“Because the industry plays such an important role in West Michigan’s economy, it’s vital that we provide students with a window into the world of manufacturing,” Hill said. “We’re grateful for all the extra thought and effort our manufacturers have put into creating this unique career exploration opportunity.”
Lakeshore Advantage, the local nonprofit economic development organization that works with primary employers in Ottawa and Allegan counties, works closely with Discover Manufacturing, the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, and the Allegan Area Educational Services Agency to coordinate lakeshore manufacturer participation in Discover Manufacturing Week.

“We are so grateful to all of our local manufacturers who have carved out time to participate in this year’s Discover Manufacturing event. Their participation helps thousands of students better understand the wide variety of challenging and profitable careers available in manufacturing, creating a spark, starting a passion, and positively changing the trajectory of careers and lives for the students,” says Mandy Cooper, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Lakeshore Advantage. “This impact is only possible through the manufacturers pulling the curtains back and inspiring the students, sharing their stories, and showing the processes and products inside their facilities.”


Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.

Shandra Martinez is the managing editor of The Lakeshore WM.
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