Campaign raises awareness of manufacturing careers

November 13th, 2014

News Coverage:

Campaign raises awareness of manufacturing careers

‘Made by Me’ targets students throughout the region

Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 11:00 pm | Updated: 6:12 am, Thu Nov 13, 2014.

By Barry Rochford

FORT WAYNE — A new awareness campaign specifically crafted to get northeast Indiana students to consider pursuing career and technical education, and manufacturing-related professions was launched Wednesday with the backing of Gov. Mike Pence.

One of the main messages of the “Made by Me” campaign is that pursuing a manufacturing career after high school doesn’t have to take a back seat to going to college.

“I’m not talking about a Plan A and a Plan B,” Pence said as he was flanked by students at a campaign kickoff event at Fort Wayne Community School’s Anthis Career Center. “I’m really talking about two Plan A’s.”

He added: “And part of how we accomplish that, I believe, is illustrated in the ‘Made by Me’ campaign, is that we’re going to elevate the opportunities that are available for career and technical education all across the region.”

Using funding received by the Pence-created Region 3 Works Council, which is attempting to align career and technical education in northeast Indiana to employers’ needs, Northeast Indiana Works led the development of the “Made by Me” campaign and has already begun reaching out to educators to get them on board.

Manufacturing has the greatest number of employees in northeast Indiana, totaling more than 78,000 jobs, according to a Northeast Indiana Works estimate. One in five jobs in the region is tied to manufacturing, and employment is expected to surpass 80,000 by 2024.

In addition, the average manufacturing job in northeast Indiana pays more than $48,000 annually, which is $12,000 more than the average overall wage paid in the region.

The “Made by Me” campaign will include a mix of social media and traditional media, including, for example, short spots at the beginning of YouTube videos. There will also be a website with information about manufacturing jobs and career and technical education providers, and student testimonials.

There will also be handouts that school counselors can give to students, and meetings with educators about how they can raise awareness of career and technical education, and manufacturing careers.

“The bottom line is we’re trying to spread the message wide and we’re trying to reach as many individuals as we can,” said Gary Gatman, vice president of strategic initiatives at Northeast Indiana Works, which provides high school equivalency and job training assistance, and operates WorkOne Northeast career centers in an 11-county area.

Another message of the campaign is that the manufacturing jobs of today are not the stereotypically dirty, sometimes physically demanding manufacturing jobs of old.

“My favorite part about the message is the jobs are turning into pretty cool jobs. They’re high-tech,” Gatman said.

People with welding skills, he said, operate laser and robotic welders. Machinists run computer-controlled machines. Industrial maintenance technicians use programmable logic controllers. Drafters and designers shape their ideas in three-dimensional modeling software.

“These are not the manufacturing jobs that we knew 10 or 15 years ago,” Gatman said. “These are cool jobs with good wages and good opportunities. And that’s why we focused this on manufacturing.”

Pence said efforts such as the “Made by Me” campaign will help strengthen the state’s manufacturing sector.

“Indiana is the leading manufacturing state in America, and northeast Indiana is leading the way to make that continue to be true through this effort today.”