Companies partnered with the Horizon Education Alliance to organize industrial tours for nearly 3,000 middle school students in Elkhart County. The week’s effort is being held in conjunction with Manufacturing Day, which actually covers several days. The day usually occurs on the first Friday of October, but because of the sheer number of students involved, HEA decided to make it a week-long event.
Barletta Pontoon Boats hosted six separate tour groups from three local schools.
“Most of the students had no idea how connected we are to the world,” stated Goshen Middle School counselor Linda Dickerson, “but that was a byproduct of our original intent.”
The goal of the tours is to show students the career possibilities after high school or college, and raise awareness for career pathways they may otherwise not know about. Because the manufacturing industry is such a big part of Elkhart County, it is important to know what is available to students locally, whether they graduated high school or college. Most of the industries being toured offer many tiers for advancement for employees. Students learned that it is possible to move up in the ranks with good attendance and having good life skills, such as conflict resolution.
“We take great pride in our manufacturing team, and our manufacturing team takes great pride in the work they do,” stated Bill Fenech, President and Co-Owner of Barletta. “I think our team members were just as excited to share as the students were to learn.”
Additionally, many of the students were able to see the connection between coursework at school, and how it is intertwined in everyday manufacturing environments. Math, science, public communication, problem-solving, and creativity were just a few examples that confront manufacturing teams on a consistent basis.
“It shows what you can do with a strong work ethic,” Dickerson said, who was on the tour with students at GDC, Inc. “The opportunities for advancement are impressive.”
“We’ve hired the best-of-the-best for our manufacturing team,” continued Fenech. “Many of the students saw family members, friends of family, and neighbors. It was a great experience for all involved, and a great source of pride to be able to highlight our team.”