By Michael Degan, Fluid Power Journal Editor
For years, fluid power companies have had difficulty filling job openings and in fostering the next generation of talent. One approach to this problem is to encourage young people preparing to choose a career path to consider manufacturing and industries like fluid power. This is the impetus behind National Fluid Power Association programs aimed at high school and college students.
What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?, a project of the Manufacturers Resource Center, brings school students and manufacturing companies together to advocate careers in an economic sector that is woefully short of qualified workers.
The students select a manufacturing company in their area to visit. Then they make a video as they explore the company’s premises and discover what actually goes on there.
Students from Rochester Area Middle School, near Pittsburgh, recently chose to visit fluid power company Schroeder Industries, of Leetsdale, Pennsylvania, which manufactures liquid filtration products. The Rochester students explored Schroeder’s facility and learned about what the company makes. The video they produced is competing against videos made by other Pennsylvania students who visited companies throughout the state.
The videos are posted to a website where visitors can view them and vote for their favorites. Voting got underway on April 19 and concludes April 25 at midnight. The votes are tallied and the winning schools are announced at a ceremony on April 28. The winners then advance to compete against schools from other regions in Pennsylvania.
They’re all trying to answer the question, What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?
Schroeder has participated in the program previously. Last year, students from the Mars Hill School District visited Schroeder, and their video won first place in the category of best manufacturing message.
Schroeder is highly supportive of the program.
“As long as the students choose our organization, we support their efforts” Timothy Rodman, marketing supervisor, told Fluid Power Journal. “I see tremendous value in this program. Hearing what we do from the perspective of the younger generation really reiterates to me the importance of the industry we’re in.”
Plant manager John Ciora Jr. has been involved in the program for five years.
“I personally think this program is awesome, as it gives the younger generation a taste of what the real world of manufacturing consists of,” Ciora told Fluid Power Journal. “When kids think of manufacturing, their first reaction is its dirty.”
The students saw that Schroeder’s facility calls that stereotype into question.
“I can tell you that you can eat off the floors in our shop,” Ciora said. “We keep the shop cleaned and polished to a shine so employees want to come to work every day.
“Getting students involved young can open their eyes to different avenues of education after high school.”
The job opportunities in manufacturing companies are as varied as they would be anywhere, he said.
“Manufacturing facilities hire everyone from CEOs to janitors and all positions in between.”
That includes not just the employees who do the manufacturing, but accountants, engineers, sales people, and human resource people. That’s alongside technical and specialized jobs, such as lab technicians, welders, painters, assemblers, computer specialists and programmers, electricians, and mechanics, Ciora said.
You can view the video and vote for it until Sunday here.