Educators getting a look at today’s manufacturing

It was an opportunity for educators not only to get a first-hand look at today’s manufacturing but find ways to partner with businesses when teaching new skills to students. “We can collaborate with companies like AlphaUSA by giving students an opportunity to see real manufacturing and students and staff learning from experts in the industry from a real-life perspective, not just academic,” said Kevin Lane, principal Starkweather Academy and Shared Time Plymouth Canton Community Schools. “This will be a great addition to our established relationship with Schoolcraft College to add emphasis on the CTE career paths.”

At Starkweather, school administrators say “we believe all students are unique and have different needs in the classroom. We believe students should have a voice in their education and be responsible for their learning plans. We believe all students can succeed in school,” as stated on their website.

Also, that they “offer life skills that last a lifetime.”

Lane was joined by teachers and staff members on a tour of AlphaUSA on March 14, 2019. “The speed and efficiency of the stamping process and the technology involved in inspection was fascinating,” noted Lane. “The team that joined me now has a greater understanding of how to introduce manufacturing in various types of course work — Economics, Art, Geometry, capturing sounds and descriptions for English. Our academic staff is much more enthusiastic regarding the partnership.”

AlphaUSA is always looking for new talent especially the opportunity to employ high school graduates. “There are good jobs and career opportunities in manufacturing,” said David Lawrence, Sr. VP, Chief Administrative Officer. “However, there is still a negative stigma about the industry. The more exposure we give kids while still in school, the more they know about their options. Not all kids are going to college. Some might not go right away. Others may end up in college but not sure what subject to study. We are giving opportunities to students right out of high school. They can see what it is like in manufacturing today and as they learn, they can hone in on their skills. They can figure out what degree they want to get and the company will pay for it. We are not saying don’t go to college. We are just saying there is no reason why you cannot start working first.”

Chuck Dardas, president and CEO explained that AlphaUSA created a certification program with Schoolcraft College which gets students close to earning an associate’s degree. “We are giving them a lifelong gift by increasing their skills in the workforce,” said Dardas.
Dardas and Lawrence also shared with the Starkweather team the various programs AlphaUSA has already created to engage Middle School and High School students in the manufacturing industry. In addition, they extended an invitation to host students at AlphaUSA for a day-long class or offered to send AlphaUSA talent to the school to teach a one-day class on a specific area of manufacturing to show how what they are learning in class is applied in the real world.

“In Michigan, we are a leader in world-wide manufacturing but most students get no exposure to the career opportunities available locally for students not going to a four-year college,” said Lane. “Exposure to this option will give students a path to economic success in a good career.”

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