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.

2020 Virtual Manufacturing Days

In the past, Manufacturing Day has included an in-person experience. We want to keep everyone safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but we also still want students to learn about the wide variety of career pathways available in the manufacturing industry.

This year, our 11 Elkhart County middle schools will participate in virtual activities with some nationally known companies. HEA provided its school partners with lesson plans to engage students and deepen their understanding of how to follow a career pathway. As part of these lessons, students will be able to watch videos about career options at some of the key manufacturers in the region and a few will participate in live virtual sessions with businesses, including virtual tours of their facilities and follow up with live Q & A sessions.

Instead of all schools participating on the same one or two days as in the past, this year, schools are scheduling their Virtual Manufacturing Days experience when it works best for their calendars, with dates varying from late October through early December. 

Watch a selection of the Manufacturing Day videos created with assistance by J2 Marketing and the LIFT Network, as well as our own HEA Student Pathways team of youth apprentices below. Thanks to all of our partners, including BD Customs, Elkhart Plastics, GDC, Lippert Components Inc., Kem Krest, MORyde, Reschor, Robert Weed Corporation, and Serim Corp., all Elkhart County businesses who committed time and energy to creating content for this year’s Virtual Manufacturing Day. They truly are trailblazers in providing new ways for students to explore career pathways.

Virtual Manufacturing Days video content

Blair Milo, the State of Indiana’s first Secretary for Career Connections and Talent, welcomes you to Manufacturing Day 2020.

The HEA Student Pathways team introduces Virtual Manufacturing Days, and the concept of career pathways.

A Career Exploration tour of Elkhart Plastics produced by J2 Marketing.

A Career Exploration tour of Lippert Components Inc. produced by J2 Marketing.

A Career Exploration tour of MORyde produced by J2 Marketing.

A Career Exploration tour of Robert Weed Corporation produced by J2 Marketing.

Take a virtual tour of Robert Weed Corporation with HEA Student Pathways.

Take a virtual tour of Serim Research Corporation with HEA Student Pathways.

Take a virtual tour of Reschor with HEA Student Pathways.

Take a virtual tour of BD Custom Manufacturing with HEA Student Pathways.

Take a virtual tour of GDC Inc. with HEA Student Pathways.

Take a virtual tour of Kem Krest with HEA Student Pathways.

Take a virtual tour of Grand Design RV.

Take a virtual tour of Hoosier Crane Service Company.

The 2019 Manufacturing Day Program

Elkhart County 8th-Graders

Industry Tours

Different Facilities

Career Mentors

The 2019 program reached 2,927 8th-grade students from 11 middle schools in Elkhart County. There were 192 industry tours at 84 different facilities. Students were accompanied on the tours by 192 career mentors.

Watch our 2018 Manufacturing Day video.
See the 2017 Manufacturing Day story by Good of Goshen.

Manufacturing Day Partners include

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

Breanna Allen
(812) 223-6493

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.