Manufacturers are hiring but report they are having a hard time finding the qualified workers they need.
One solution is a statewide effort to shed more light on manufacturers and available jobs/careers. To that end, five area manufacturers — in Brainerd, Crosby, Jenkins and Merrifield — are opening their doors to everyone on Oct. 27 and Saturday for a Tour of Manufacturing.
“We’re delighted to have people come and visit us so they have a perception of what we do and what manufacturing is all about,” said John Newhouse, Lakeland Mold Co. president. “Manufacturers in general need to get more people to understand the jobs in manufacturing are good jobs that require skills and expertise far and above what most people think.”
Lakeland Mold on Madison Street in Brainerd and Precision Tool Technologies on Wright Street in Brainerd are the two companies open to tours Thursday. Graphic Packaging International in Crosby, Pequot Tool and Manufacturing Inc. in Jenkins and Clow Stampingg Co. in Merrifield will be open for tours Saturday.
The prospect of good-paying jobs should be enough of a draw in and around Brainerd, which regularly posts the highest unemployment rate among large cities in the state. But the manufacturing community notes people may have outdated ideas of manufacturing jobs.
“We are in a hiring mode as are a number of other manufacturers in the vicinity,” Newhouse said. “Manufacturers are having a hard time finding the qualified people we need.”
Newhouse said he hopes the open houses create a more realistic perception and encourage young people to consider manufacturing careers.
Misconceptions may persist as people think of the “rust belt” when considering manufacturing jobs, Newhouse said. Perhaps they think the work environment is lacking or worry they’ll be glorified automatons in a thoughtless job.
Manufacturing is a good place for a good-paying job requiring specialized skills, Newhouse said. Work often involves computerized technology and Newhouse said there is a higher demand for worker involvement in the process.
Thursday and Saturday anyone who wants to tour the five manufacturers will get a chance to see the work environment for themselves. Preparation has gone from setting up tour guides to reserving parking.
“We welcome anybody and everybody,” Newhouse said. “We hope people take opportunity. We hope we’ll have a good turnout.”
High school and college students were encouraged to take advantage of the manufacturing tours as a way to discover high technology careers in the lakes area. Careers options include robotics and automation, welding, manual machinists and toolmakers, woodworking, computer-assisted design technicians, sales and product managers, quality assurance, mechanical and electrical engineers, assembly and shipping, finance and human resources, purchasing, and fabricators.
The Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection along with Central Lakes College collaborated to get the word out to students.
The open house idea was modeled after the “Parade of Homes” concept and is a state-wide event. Go online to http://www.tourofmanufacturingmn.com/ for more information.
Also, Central Lakes College, Staples Campus, will be available as part of the tour from 1-7 p.m. Friday.
Newhouse said: “We hope students, parents and just the general public are going to find it interesting enough to knock on our door and come in.”
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.