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Does Every Student Need a 4-Year Degree? Manufacturing Demands Say Not Necessarily

October is Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin. The Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce along with the Muskego High School will take a look at manufacturers and other businesses in the Muskego area.

I recently returned from a 3 day retreat with over 40 other Chamber Execs from across the Wisconsin area.  This retreat is hosted annually by the WCCE and WMC, a great place for getting ideas, and learning about the state of business in Wisconsin. 

Problems that we are facing:

  • Nearly 7% unemployment, YET manufacturers can't find employees
  • A trillion dollars in student loan debt, YET so many unemployable
  • Negative attitude toward manufacturing, YET it drives our economy
  • A great need to communicate, YET some educators have never been in manufacturing plants, and some manufacturers have never reached out to schools
  • 30% of jobs in Wisconsin require bachelor's degree or more, which means 70% do not, with the majority of those requiring techinical education beyond high school.

October is Manufacturing Month and the Muskego Chamber is exposing our manufacturers to a group of over 75 High School Seniors. What they will learn is:

  • What it takes to work at one of the manufacturers in Muskego
  • Simply throwing away the old factory worker stereotypes
  • Educating students and teachers alike about how the manufacturing industry is growing and advancing and is ready to offer solid, good paying jobs to those individuals with the skills needed to operate some serious equipment.

They will also receive a tour of the facilities, a demonstration and background of the company, and what skills, education and experience it will take to work at those facilities. 

Right now, there are shortages of engineers, welders, CNC operators, machinists, and elctromechanical technicians.  Some of these positions require work experience, some apprenticeships, some techincal degrees, and some four year degrees or more.  Our ability to match supply and demand in the workforce may very well be the strategic advantage that makes us competitive.

We owe students a reality check.  What are the odds they will find a job in their chosen field? Discussions should be had on the path they wish to pursue, provide information on what it will take to reach their goal, explore the costs, evaluate the job prospects, study levels of demand, review salary expectations and even, consider the R.O.I.  Does every child need a 4 year degree?

A broader understanding by students of jobs available could help in the long run.  Most don't know what a welder does, they do not know what a CNC operator is, they have never seen the inside of a modern day manufacturing facility.

The Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce along with the Muskego High School will tackle this on October 24th.

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