Meeting the manufacturing needs of the Fox Valley

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Demand for workers in manufacturing is high – and there are a pair of schools trying to meet the need.
Fox Valley Technical College had its first job fair for the field this afternoon while Kaukauna High School was recognized for its excellence in preparing kids for a future in manufacturing.

“Looking for machinists, we’re looking for metal fab, we’re looking for electrical mechanical people,” said Casey Sattler, production manager for Miller Electric.

Looking for pretty much every role.
And more than 70 regional manufacturers were at Fox Valley Technical College looking for the best.

“We’re competing against other machine shops to fight for people coming in,” said Sattler. “Not a lot of people are coming into the skilled trade market right now, so it’s a tough market for us.”

It’s a field that’s–by all accounts–lucrative to say the least.

“A low of $25/hr,” said Nels Lawrence, head of technology at Kaukauka High School. “More typically in the $30 to $40 to even $50/hr range.”

Kaukauna High School is one of eight schools in the country awarded for excellence in its manufacturing program.
And it’s all coming full-circle.

“I was visiting a multi-million dollar company yesterday,” said Lawrence. “The owners were in my class 20 years ago. Now they’re hiring my students. So that’s a pretty satisfying situation.”

And examples of that are all over the place.

“I actually started my job at Team Industries as a sophomore in high school, so I’ve been at the same company now for just over 20 years,” said Nick Rieth, a Kaukauna High School graduate.

Its students get the opportunity to dabble in a variety of skillsets before college.

“Just having the opportunity to take classes such as welding,” said Justin King, a senior at Kaukauna High School. “That gives you a way head-start. It’s all free in high school, so you save money, you save time.”

It’s one way the Fox Valley is looking to support its own and grow its own.

“Just go and ask Mr. Lawrence–I bet we have a spot for you,” he said. “And you can go and leave our building and go get some work experience, make some money, get some hours under your belt. It’s a great way to get started.”

The next engineering job fair at FVTC will be next spring on March 3rd.

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