Work Matters Column by Trish Niles
October is upon us, and with it comes Manufacturing Month, a time for celebrating one of the most important pillars of our regional economy. Manufacturing Month is an annual statewide initiative to recognize Kentucky’s manufacturing sector, which employs nearly 250,000 citizens across 5,000 operations.
During Manufacturing Month, we not only applaud the tremendous contributions of the manufacturing sector but also emphasize the importance of building strong connections between employers like Mid-Park, Inc. in Grayson County, where I serve as Human Resources Manager, and our local schools. In addition to producing guardrails, load transfer assemblies and overhead sign structures, we at Mid-Park, Inc. also pride ourselves in helping to produce the next generation of area manufacturing professionals.
At Mid-Park, Inc., we firmly believe in the power of education and mentorship to shape the future. To that end, we've made it our mission to open our doors to both area middle and high school students throughout the year, offering them invaluable opportunities to explore the world of manufacturing up close and personal. We understand that by igniting their curiosity at an early age, we can help them discover the myriad of diverse and fulfilling career paths within our industry.
Our offerings include a range of programs, such as job shadowing, co-op opportunities and internships, all designed to provide students with hands-on experience and a glimpse into the dynamic world of manufacturing. We also work closely with recent high school graduates who are embarking on further education within manufacturing-related fields, ensuring they have the support and flexibility they need to succeed.
Just a few days ago, we had the pleasure of hosting a group of seniors from Grayson County High School during High School Manufacturing Day. This visit was part of a broader initiative that included visits to several local manufacturers. Notable community partners including Grayson County Transition Coordinator Brandi Lee, State Representative Samara Heavrin and April Spalding, Executive Director at Grayson County Chamber of Commerce, also participated in the day’s activities. Other local employers who graciously participated in the event included Bel Brands, Plastikon, Byrd Tool, Xtreme Fabrication, Mann Lake and Scotty’s Contracting & Stone. Working in conjunction, we provided these students with a firsthand look at the wide array of exciting opportunities available within the manufacturing world.
However, our commitment to nurturing the future of area manufacturing doesn't end at our own doorstep. The Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation (EHCIF) is also celebrating Manufacturing Month by fostering partnerships between manufacturers and local schools throughout October. Through this new initiative, middle and high school students will have the chance to explore manufacturing facilities, interact with industry professionals, and delve into educational pathways in manufacturing at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College.
To further support students as they move toward a career in manufacturing, the Kentucky Career Center - Lincoln Trail (KCC-LT) offers a wide range of resources, from career counseling and job search assistance to training opportunities and connections with local employers. With the assistance of KCC-LT, individuals can find the right path into manufacturing careers, whether through job fairs, apprenticeships, on-the-job training or support during workforce transitions.
Partnerships between employers, schools and organizations such as KCC-LT are the linchpin in creating an even more robust industrial sector in our region. It takes a collective effort to ensure that those included in our emerging talent pool are thoroughly equipped and eager to embrace both the challenges and opportunities presented by the ever-changing manufacturing industry.
As we commemorate Manufacturing Month, let's not just celebrate the great manufacturers and manufacturing employees we already have, but also the next generation of professionals, leaders and innovators in manufacturing.
To learn more about resources available through KCC-LT, visit https://ltcareercenter.org.
Trish Niles, Human Resources Manager for Mid Park Inc., serves as Chair of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. She can be reached at TNiles@mid-park.com.