Learning skills that one day may pay the bills

Greater Lafayette Commerce is holding its third annual Manufacturing Week and teaching middle school students skills that one day may pay the bills. (WLFI Photo)
Greater Lafayette Commerce is holding its third annual Manufacturing Week and teaching middle school students skills that one day may pay the bills. (WLFI Photo)

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — As manufacturing becomes more technical, companies are looking to young people to get the training they need to fill future jobs.

Greater Lafayette Commerce is holding its third annual Manufacturing Week. On Tuesday, area middle school students made a trip to Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette to discover if they are interested in joining the field.

Local companies, like Wabash National Corporation and Subaru of Indiana, were there to answer questions and give students an up-close look at how products are made.

Ivy Tech’s School of Technology Dean Aaron Baute said companies are looking at how manufacturing will change 10 to 20 years into the future, and getting kids prepared with the skills to match those expectations.

“HR Departments have a very long-term strategy not only in that time frame, but for the next 50 years to fill this pipeline and make sure we have people in this community working in the jobs that are in this community,” Baute said.

Students say the expo peaks their interest in deciding to go into a more technical career.

“Because of technology, people go to college and they learn off of people a long time ago,” said seventh-grader Maryn Worl, from Carroll Jr. High School. “So they get smarter, and they learn from their mistakes, and they can do more.”

Turkey Run Jr. High School eighth-grader Benjamin Blacketer said, “In modern times, you need more education because a lot of the stuff they teach now is a lot more difficult than it was 20, 30 or 40 years ago.”

On Thursday and Friday, area high school students are touring actual Lafayette factories to see advanced manufacturing firsthand.