Manufacturing Day Spotlights Potential Career Paths

ATU-Ozark and ATCC Manufacturing Day 2021
Michael Millwood from PotlachDeltic speaks to students at Arkansas Tech Career Center during a 2021 National Manufacturing Day event in Russellville.

Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus, Arkansas Tech Career Center (ATCC) and the Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce collaborated to host a pair of 2021 National Manufacturing Day observances for local students.

Founded in 2011 by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute, National Manufacturing Day is held each October to give the manufacturing sector and students a way to connect and educate potential future employees on the modern environments that manufacturers provide.

Over 1,600 National Manufacturing Day events are being held this year across the country. These events provide information to the next generation of workers needed to fill the expected 4 million jobs available in manufacturing over the next decade.

Machining operations students at the Tyson Foods Logan County Career Center, an ATCC satellite campus located in Paris, received the opportunity to tour Stark Manufacturing in Paris and ABB in Ozark during one of the local 2021 National Manufacturing Day events.

“Manufacturing Day is an opportunity that we never want to pass up,” said Dexter Lekwa, ABB plant manager. “It provides us the ability to speak in front of students on what manufacturing actually is. Growing up, students always aspire to be a teacher, fireman or policeman. I contribute this to those jobs being in the public eye. Manufacturing Day is an opportunity to get manufacturing in that spotlight for students to see the large amount of good-paying jobs in the market. Here at ABB Ozark, the safety of our employees is our number one priority and we pride ourselves on being family taking care of our customers safely.”

Representatives from ConAgra Foods in Russellville, Taber Extrusions in Russellville and PotlachDeltic in Ola spoke to ATCC students during a second National Manufacturing Day event.

As result of the initiative, more than 100 students from four different programs heard from plant managers about modern manufacturing careers at their facilities. Students were able to tie many of the technologies they are already learning, such as programmable logic controllers, into the new high-tech roles available in manufacturing.

Plant management shared about safety, their products, increased wages and how a person can work their way up through various roles within their facilities.

“Manufacturing has one of the highest multipliers of any career sector,” said Justin Smith, chief business and community outreach officer at ATU-Ozark. “When one of these companies expands, it creates a direct effect of jobs in the plant, then indirect jobs for suppliers of the plant and an induced effect when workers and families of the entire supply chain spend money in their community. These manufacturers carry a great economic impact on the Arkansas River Valley. Each company that spoke to the students sees the value in talking to their future workforce about the types of jobs within their walls. I want to also thank our partnership with the Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce and ATCC for making the events a success.”

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