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Students gear up for Manufacturing Days

Alyssa Jackson
  • 15 school districts in York County are participating in Manufacturing Days.
  • The schools will visit local manufacturers and learn more about industry.

Students from school districts all over York County will spend time with local manufacturers learning about the workforce and skills necessary for different jobs next week during Manufacturing Days.

Rick Mong, right, of Martin's Potato Chips, talks about how potatoes are packaged during a tour of the factory in Thomasville, in this June 15, 2016, photo. The snack food maker will be hosting York County high schoolers next week as part of the second annual Manufacturing Days. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Manufacturing Days, now in its second year, is organized by the York County Economic Alliance in an effort to teach students about the importance of manufacturing. Kim Lentz, the alliance's manager of workforce development, said it has grown in size this year.

Last year, 11 school districts participated in the first-ever York County Manufacturing Days with approximately 190 students. This year, 15 school districts are participating Oct. 3-7 with an anticipated 350 students heading to local manufacturers.

There are 14 manufacturers in the York area working with students throughout the week. Host manufacturers include American Hydro, Coupling Corp., Harley-Davidson Inc., Martin's Potato Chips and more. A complete list of schools and participating manufacturers can be found on the York County Economic Alliance website.

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"We're trying to encourage students to consider manufacturing careers, and this helps them to experience what a career in manufacturing could be like," Lentz said.

Lentz explained that school districts are matched up with a manufacturer based on geographical location. The manufacturer that is hosting the district that day offers the students a free lunch and pays for transportation, which is why working off of geographical location works best.

Students spend half a day at the manufacturer, engaged in activities that the business plans. Lentz said typically students listen to speakers from human resources and other departments of the business, spend time on the manufacturing floor speaking with employees and occasionally get to do some hands-on work.

For the most part, each school district goes to a single manufacturer during Manufacturing Days. The only exceptions are districts near the Hanover Chamber of Conference. Those districts have the opportunity to visit four manufacturers, Lentz said.

Manufacturing Days is part of the alliance's Career in 2 Years (CI2Y) initiative, which seeks to educate students and parents about careers that require two years or less of post-secondary training or education, according to the York County Economic Alliance's website.

Manufacturing Days kicked off Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Weldon Solutions to celebrate the large interest the York County Economic Alliance has seen in the program. Officials such as state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, were in attendance, and Lentz said the participating manufacturers and school districts were invited as well.

"Getting them out there on the shop floor and interacting with the employees is really beneficial," she said. "We had excellent feedback from students last year."

It's too late for school districts or manufacturers to sign up for Manufacturing Days this year, but Lentz said anyone interested in learning more about the program or participating next year is welcome to contact her at kjlentz@ycea-pa.org.

"We want to encourage any student who has an interest in manufacturing that enjoys math and science and isn’t sure what they want to do for their career," Lentz said. "Manufacturing and health care both offer great opportunities with two years or less of post-secondary education."