11 ALIVE: Where the jobs are: Manufacturing

Career College Central Summary:

  • Forget what you think you know about manufacturing jobs. Factories now have a new look.
  • "Robotics, automation, pieces of engineering, software integration," said Matt Mead, Human Resources Director forSiemens' Drive Technologies plant in Alpharetta, Georgia.
  • Yet, in many cases, the perceptions of factories are different.
  • "When you talk to people about this, they say, I don't want to work in a factory, for God's sake," said Vice President, Joe Biden, during an interview about U.S. jobs.
  • The past stigma of manufacturing jobs as dirty and undesirable still lingers, but good jobs in manufacturing are in need of workers.
  • "The truth is, right now, if you're willing to learn how to weld, and work, you can go to North Dakota and you can be making six figures within a year," said Mike Rowe, Television Host for the Discovery Channel Series, "Dirty Jobs".
  • "What is cool again is a lot of the jobs are pretty cool. A lot of these jobs are high tech," said Biden.
  • But, U. S. factories are struggling to fill their help-wanted ads for half a million advanced manufacturing jobs partly because high school graduates have increasingly shied away from them.
  • Some companies are trying to change that perception.
  • "We have a factory and we built a schoolhouse inside the factory," said Stu Thorn, President and CEO of Southwire, the nation's largest wire and cable manufacturer and located in west Georgia.
  • Seven years ago, Southwire built a 32, 850 sq. ft. facility inCarrollton, Georgia. It became so successful, the company also created a 30,000 sq. ft. facility inFlorence, Alabama.
  • The program is a way to attract students while still in high school and to keep more at-risk teens working toward a diploma and it's called "12 for Life" for an important reason.
  • "12 for Life" means if you finish 12 years of school, you're going to have a better life," said Thorn.
  • "We run this plant just like any of our other plants, basically, but we do it with high school students," said Blair Parker, Operations Manager for Southwire.
  • All 300 teens in the program are identified by schools officials as likely to drop out.
  • "I had a kid when I was 17 and my mom passed away shortly before," said Megan Persini, 18.
  • "My mom's on disability," said Jeliegha Lester, 17.
  • The students get their academic main courses with a big side order of work skills and, best of all, they get paid.
  • "New hires are trained and able to go, usually within a week, they can go from $8 to $9 an hour," said Douglas Wright, 12 for Life Coordinator to Carroll County Schools.
  • Southwire partners with local school districts and it is among a growing number of companies nationwide aimed at re-wiring the factory image to attract young workers.
  • "There are about a thousand ways to get training. Community colleges have programs. For-profit trade schools have programs," said Rowe.

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