College and Career

Pathways System

Pilot Program: 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 misperceptions 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, the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County (EDC), all seven Elkhart County School Districts, and 56 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.

Manufacturing is Elkhart County’s largest industry. 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 2017 Manufacturing Day Program

Elkhart County 8th-Graders

Industry Tours

Different Facilities

Career Mentors

The 2017 program reached 1,922 8th-grade students from all ten middle schools in Elkhart County. There were 272 industry tours at 63 different facilities. Students were accompanied on the tours by 133 career mentors.

Manufacturing Day Partners

Horizon Education Alliance
Elkhart County Economic Development Corporation
Elkhart County school districts
56 Area Manufacturers

Indicators of Success

Student surveys completed after the 2016 Manufacturing Day events demonstrated a positive response from students.

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98% said activities and tours were interesting.

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98% learned a lot about the types of jobs at manufacturing companies.

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95% learned about the types of skills needed to work in a manufacturing company.

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67% are more interested in jobs in manufacturing because of the Manufacturing Day activities.

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85% learned a lot about the types of classes they can take in high school that can help with their career.

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.

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How You Can Help

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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, 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 all ten 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.