College and Career

Pathways System

Initiative: Manufacturing Day

Manufacturing Day

Manufacturing Day is a national celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. The event addresses common misconceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t.

By working together, businesses can address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the community.

Elkhart County Manufacturing Day is implemented through a partnership with HEA, all seven Elkhart County School Districts, Bethany Christian Schools, and more than 75 local businesses.

The Challenge

There is a national shortage of qualified workers in manufacturing – the current national projection is that up to 2 million of the 3.5 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled in the next 10 years.

Elkhart County has the highest percentage per capita of total workforce in the country employed in manufacturing. Fall 2017 county-level data suggest there are close to 10,000 manufacturing jobs left unfilled in Elkhart County because of a shortage of qualified workers.

Negative perceptions of the manufacturing industry are a significant recruitment challenge, both nationally and locally. Our young people have limited access to accurate information about the career pathways open to them in their own communities and the potential benefits of these pathways.

The 2018 Manufacturing Day Program

Elkhart County 8th-Graders

Industry Tours

Different Facilities

Career Mentors

The 2018 program reached 2,911 8th-grade students from 12 middle schools in Elkhart County. There were 378 industry tours at 77 different facilities. Students were accompanied on the tours by 186 career mentors.

Watch our 2018 Manufacturing Day video.

See the 2017 Manufacturing Day story by Good of Goshen.

Manufacturing Day Partners

Horizon Education Alliance
Community Foundation of Elkhart County
All seven Elkhart County school districts
Bethany Christian Schools
Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County
ADEC Industries
Clinton Frame Church
Maple City Chapel
Southgate Crossing

Dal-Mar Catering
Nelsons Catering
Martin’s Catering
Center Six One Five
Northern Indiana Event Center
Ivy Tech Community College
Elkhart Area Career Center

Partners include 86 area manufacturing sites

Adorn Custom Vinyl
Adorn Hardwoods
Alexander Dennis
Alpha Systems
American Cargo Group
Arbor Industries
Ayr Custom Cabinets
Barletta Boat
Bearcat Corporation
Berry Plastics
Challenger Door
Commodore Homes
Conn-Selmer (Brass Plant)
Conn-Selmer (Woodwinds)
Creative Bus Sales
Dexter Axle
Dometic (Industrial)
Dometic (Simonton)
Dynamic Metal
Elkhart Area Career Center
Elkhart Plastics

Genesis Elkhart Plant 2
Genesis Goshen Plant 5
Genesis Goshen Plant 8
Goshen Stamping
Grand Design
Hoosier Crane
Indiana Plastics
Interior Components
J & N Stone
Janus Motorcycles
Jayco Towables
Kem Krest (Bristol)
Kem Krest (Elkhart)
KIB Electronics
Kountry Wood Products
L & W
Lake City Bank
LaVine Restoration
Lippert Plant 228W
Lippert Plant 50
Lippert Plant 58
Lippert Plant 67
Lippert Plant 85
Lippert Plant 91

Lycro Products
McCormick Motors
Mor/Ryde (Copper Drive)
Mor/Ryde (Sterling)
NIBCO (Elkhart)
NIBCO (Goshen)
Northern Indiana Axle
Re-Gen Inc.
Robert Weed Corp
Satellite Industries
Serim Research
Shield Restraint Systems
Stairs Supplies
Southwest (Laser) Welding
Thor Motor Coach (Wakarusa)
Veada Industries
Welch Packaging
Wieland Designs

Indicators of Success

Student surveys completed after the 2018 Manufacturing Day events demonstrated a positive response from students.


87% of students agree or strongly agree that “I now know more about what it takes to be a successful employee.”


89% agree or strongly agree that “I learned about the types of skills needed to work in a manufacturing company.”


40% of students agree or strongly agree that “I am more interested in jobs in manufacturing because of the Manufacturing Day activities.” (The percent might not seem high but that’s a lot of students considering how many attended the event.)

Solution and Overarching Goal

Manufacturing Day is an opportunity for students to gain experience and knowledge about careers in manufacturing and to begin to build connections with the companies in their own community.

Elkhart County educators have expanded the Manufacturing Day site visits into a seven-lesson curriculum connecting career pathways and education. Research shows that students become less engaged in school as they advance through middle school and high school. By making education relevant, we can help keep students engaged in learning and focused on long-term goals.

Manufacturing Day

Contact Information

Jason Harrison
(574) 903-4739

Goals / Milestones

  • In 2016, Elkhart County identified Manufacturing Day as an important component in developing a more robust pipeline to local careers in manufacturing, while at the same time helping students gain better understanding and awareness of career pathways more generally.
  • Elkhart County’s goal for Manufacturing Day is to raise awareness of 8th-grade students and parents of the local manufacturing career pathways and the corresponding educational pipeline.
  • Manufacturing Day was piloted in Elkhart County in Fall 2016 in partnership with the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County, with the participation of 620 middle school students visiting 28 area businesses.
  • Due to the success of the first Manufacturing Day events, in Fall 2017, the program was expanded to reach 1,922 8th-grade students, from 11 middle schools in Elkhart County.
  • Curriculum for the Manufacturing Day program was designed collaboratively by educators in order to provide students with time to reflect on and apply their learning beyond the tours.
  • Parent Nights following the student tours allow for parents to learn about diverse career opportunities in the manufacturing sector alongside their children.
  • In 2018, all 8th-grade students from all 10 public middle schools, as well as Bethany Christian Schools, in Elkhart County participated in the event with revised curriculum following feedback from the previous year’s event.