"I’ve thought about getting a four-year degree, but my issue is, school has never been my thing. Sitting down in a classroom is not really my thing because I have really bad ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), so it’s even harder with that. Doing is my strong suit. When I’m reading, it sort of bores me, but when I’m working with my hands, I’m more interested in it and engaged in it, so it’s easier for me to retain the information."
Students were given a tour of the 80-year-old assembly line facility that currently builds the Ram 1500 Classic and participated in some hands-on job readiness activities. Among the activities were dexterity tests and assembly mock-up, where students learned the importance of performing every part of the assembly process correctly and how even small mistakes could result in death for those inside the vehicle.
Jim Battaglia, an instructor at the career prep center, said exposure to the opportunities is the value of Manufacturing Day.
"Typically, they come away more impressed than when they walked in," he said. "Even living in this area, most students would say they didn't even know what was here before we came here today. There are so many career opportunities right here in Michigan."
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said Manufacturing Day has become a success in the county for a variety of reasons. The program helped bring high school seniors into industrial plants to see the kind of opportunities that are available and the shortage of workers. School districts have brought back the types of classes that promote skilled trades, and in turn companies have assisted the schools, knowing that they may be helping train future employees.
"Manufacturing Day is important for the kids and the companies because this is where it first came from with the manufacturing companies. We got a chance to talk to manufacturers, and they were really concerned about the workforce and finding and recruiting talent," Hackel said. "We partnered with the MISD and the superintendents to find out where the disconnection is and how can we reconnect, and Manufacturing Day became the catalyst.
"These are highly technical jobs, they’re cleaner and [they’re] in safer environments. Today, we’re seeing every school district in Macomb County is participating. We have 72 companies participating and some had to be turned away."