October is Manufacturing Month and Madison County schools celebrated on Friday by having students tour some of the manufacturing plants around the area. London High School counselor, Maggie Gates, oversaw 27 ninth and 10th grade students as they were taken through the Stanley Electric plant just outside of London.
Stanley, an international company which specializes in automotive lighting and, according to their website, “houses lighting designers, mold design, construction, and maintenance, and production engineers,” currently has more than 1,300 full-time associates, making them one of the largest employers in the area.
Students were treated to pizza for lunch and a multi-group tour around the Stanley facilities. Gates said the focus on manufacturing jobs is a great way to demystify the questions some young people may have about factory employment and the scope of careers beyond high school.
“Skilled labor is where we need to be directing our students and young people,” Gates said. “We are reaching a point within the industry, where there are not going to be enough people to fill the positions of those who retire.” She said that some students may have a negative view on what it means to work in a factory setting and hopes the tour puts it in a more positive light.
“If manufacturing comes to a halt, so does our economy,” she said. “It employees people at all levels, from GED through doctorate. All levels have a place in manufacturing.”
A large number of Stanley employees start through a temp agency and the company only requires that applicants be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma.
The schools getting to tour the plants originated with the Madison County Chamber of Commerce. “For the past two years we’ve coordinated tours between local school districts and local employers. This year we’ve worked with schools and local manufacturers to coordinate tours for a third year,” said David Kell, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce. The goal was to get all Madison County Districts involved and to continue this year to year.
Also on Friday, students from Jonathan Alder and Tolles visited Nissen Chemitec America and there are plans for West Jefferson and Madison-Plains schools to visit two other manufacturing locations.
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.