|Schock Delivers Keynote Address at Discover Manufacturing Career Fair
Nationwide, an estimated 600,000 high-tech, manufacturing jobs remain open because employers can’t find qualified applicants.
Congressman Aaron Schock on Wednesday encouraged more than 1,000 high school students from central Illinois to consider jobs and careers in manufacturing. Schock was a key speaker at the Discover Manufacturing Career Fair held at the Peoria Civic Center.
Locally, Schock said he attended a groundbreaking Wednesday for a manufacturing facility in Savanna, IL that will employ 80 individuals. “Their biggest concern is finding workers,” Schock said.
There are 160 manufacturing establishments in Peoria County and 114 in Tazewell County. The state of Illinois is one of the nation’s leaders in manufacturing.
“Stop and think strategically, where do you want to be in five years? Consider this profession for this reason: you can get paid to learn. You can get an education at work,” Schock told the students. “There isn’t a manufacturer here today that doesn’t have advancement opportunities within their company.”
Students attending the expo had the option of stopping at one of seven “tour” locations to get a first-hand look at what modern manufacturing is about. Hosts included: Caterpillar, Excel Foundry, BTD Manufacturing, Illinois Valley Plastics, Morton Industries, Parsons and Premier Fabrication.
They learned of varying levels of manufacturing jobs around central Illinois, skills most sought after by employers and tips for starting a career in manufacturing.
The issue of developing a highly skilled work force is something professionals in central Illinois are looking to address. As a recent example, Excel Foundry & Machine, a company that makes heavy-duty mining parts, is planning for a $15 million expansion that will add roughly 100 employees. But CEO Doug Parsons has said he is lacking the highly-skilled work force to fill those jobs.
“Apply yourself, work hard and outperform your peers and you’re going to find yourself on the fast track to advancement. Consider this as a path, given the economic situation that we’re in, where you can make money and have opportunities for advancement and education,” Schock said.