October is Manufacturing Month and an excellent time to reflect on the importance of manufacturing in our lives. In Kentucky, we produce many things Americans use every day: car parts, aluminum foil, hand sanitizer, and even peanut butter, to name a few. Additionally, Kentuckians create products that help our country on a larger scale, from farm equipment and aerospace materials to pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. When someone chooses to join the manufacturing industry, they take on more than a job; they contribute to our state and national economies.
My name is Trish Niles, and I’m the human resources manager and apprenticeship director for Mid-Park, Inc. Our company began operations right here in the Lincoln Trail region on a family farm 50 years ago. Today, we have a thriving business, producing metal fabricated parts like farm gate hardware, automotive parts and highway construction products to name a few. Although our products are sold across the nation, as a local business, many of our goods also return to area-farmers and our roads. Additionally, as a family-operated company, we are dedicated to providing jobs, supporting youth programs, and promoting new opportunities for future generations across the region.
We do this by participating in Manufacturing Month at local schools, hosting guest speakers, and offering tours of our facilities. According to the National Manufacturing Association, Kentucky supports an estimated 255,000 manufacturing jobs across the state, accounting for just over 13 percent of the state’s workforce. We want school-aged children and adults to know about the many great careers available in the manufacturing industry and explore those through classes at their area technology centers.
When people think of manufacturing, they often think of assembly line work, but manufacturing has more to offer. Engineering, administration, welding, IT, business and accounting are just a few of the specialties available in the manufacturing industry. Whatever your interests are, we are confident there is a niche where you would thrive and grow within the field.
If you do not have a degree in one of the aforementioned fields or are not sure where you would want manufacturing to take you, that is okay, too. In our company and throughout the industry, manufacturers seek individuals who wish to grow with the company. We promote from within and encourage our employees to enroll in higher education programs. Our starting wage for someone with no experience is $15 per hour with additional benefits including insurance, disability coverage, vacation time, a 401K and quarterly incentive bonuses. These benefits are more or less standard across the industry.
If working in a positive environment with great benefits and room for growth sounds like an opportunity you would be interested in, start your journey at the Kentucky Career Center-Lincoln Trail (KCC-LT). There, you can find up-to-date information about current job openings and education and training programs such as those offered at Elizabethtown Community & Technical College.
KCC-LT can also help you determine if tuition assistance or other types of training assistance may be available to you. Tuition assistance, for example, is offered by the U.S. Department of Labor via the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to individuals pursuing careers in in-demand fields like manufacturing. Additionally, local scholarships and grants such as the Work Ready Scholarship program are designed to help cover education expenses.
Employers may also offer on-the-job training (OJT) with help from KCC-LT thanks to a federal program funded by WIOA. OJT specialists help employers find the right talent, and employers receive up to 50 percent of the costs to provide on-the-job training for individuals hired through KCC-LT.
For information on these programs and more, contact KCC-LT to get started.
Trish Niles is the human resources manager and apprenticeship director for Mid-Park, Inc. She also serves on the executive committee of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.