One of the main reasons motivating Manufacturing Day is to introduce students to the potential of manufacturing careers. Your MFG DAY event is a chance to spark student interest in manufacturing that could lead to further studies, a new generation of skilled workers, and an eventual closing of the skills gap.
Therefore, a primary audience for any MFG DAY event should be students and, with them, the people who help them make decisions about their education and careers — i.e., teachers and parents. No matter where you are located, there will be a public elementary, middle, or high school in your area. It’s best to start by talking to people you know — or can get a reference to — at a local school.
If you don’t have contacts of your own, you can get started by taking a look at this sample school letter, which can also be found in the MFG DAY Host Toolkit. The school letter should give you a sense of how to propose bringing a student groups to your MFG DAY event and can certainly be used as the basis for your own, personalized letter should you choose that method to reach out to schools or other institutions in your area.
Working with Middle Schools, High Schools, and Community or Technical Colleges
Giving students early exposure to manufacturing careers is critically important to ensuring a long-term talent pipeline. Over 64% of students in career and technical education (CTE) programs say that their own interests and personal experiences are the greatest influencing their on their future career decisions.
Partner early with local schools in your area to give students an understanding of what modern manufacturing looks like in their community. Prior to the event, make sure that their teachers use the teacher’s guide “An Introduction to Manufacturing” to get the students ready for what to expect from their tours.
When it comes to inviting students from community and technical colleges, it also helps to start with places and people you know, but you aren’t sure where to start, check out The Manufacturing Institute’s M-List. This is a great resource for programs in your area that that are teaching manufacturing students to industry standards. Specifically, these schools offer students the opportunity to earn NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certifications as a standard part of their manufacturing education programs. Each school has information on the programs they offer as well as contact information.
Overcoming Logistical Issues
Once you’ve found the right organization — and the right person at that organization — that can help you get students to your MFG DAY event, there may be some logistical issues you’ll have to overcome, particularly when it comes to students who are minors.
For students under 18 years of age, they will need permission from their parents to attend your event. Any school you work with should have a standard permissions form they can use to secure this authorization but they’ll need specifics from you and will need lead time to coordinate.
While we are always eager to recommend that MFG DAY events occur on the first Friday of October, an event that is geared toward a student audience will obviously have to be scheduled when it makes sense for students. The exact date and time could be impacted by school calendars and class schedules.
Students that are not of driving age or that don’t have their own transportation will need a ride to your event. Smaller groups can likely be coordinated with carpools but larger groups — especially those made up of students who can’t drive themselves — will need to rent some form of mass transportation, such as a bus, which will require securing funds.
Designing Your Event for Students
Whoever you choose to reach out to, it will help to have a sense of what you plan to offer them during your tour when you make contact. Pages 11–12 of the MFG DAY Host Toolkit provide suggestions for how to create a meaningful presentation that will resonate with non-manufacturers. Take a look at it before you reach out to schools so you can develop some ideas for how to engage students — and make your event sounds like something they don’t want to miss!