DACC Middle School Students Explore Manufacturing Job Opportunities

October 23, 2013

“It’s getting hard and harder to find qualified, skilled employees.” That was the message from Mark Watt, Federal Heath Sign Company’s Operations Manager as he addressed middle school students from Dempsey and Buckeye Valley who are also in Delaware Area Career Center programs. During a time when unemployment is still a concern for those entering the job market, local manufacturers are reporting a shortage of job candidates. Working with the Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce Quality of Life Committee, teachers Nicki Wright and Tina Francis arranged tours of local manufacturing plants to show their students that they can plan for a successful career in manufacturing and the companies that are hiring are in their own community. Companies that participated in the tour included Federal Heath Sign Company, V&P Hydraulic Products, Sky Climber, and Luvata Ohio.

Watt continued his address to the students by adding, “You are the workers of the future. What I hope you take away from this visit is that the jobs available here are good jobs that pay well and the need for this work is not going away.” Watt described Federal Heath as a good source of jobs for Delaware County. Federal Heath hires a number of positions, including project managers, designers, engineers, machine operators, assemblers, welders, and many more. The students on this tour were encouraged to consider manufacturing as a future career, no matter what specialty they choose for themselves. When students were asked what their thoughts were after hearing this message, Erin Bruce answered, “The number of jobs available in the manufacturing world were quite intriguing."

During the Federal Heath Sign Company tour, students were surprised to see some familiar sites, such as signs for Texas Road House, Shell Gas, and Red Lobster. “Not many people think about where these signs come from when they see them on buildings or next to gas stations,” said tour guide, Christopher Smillie. “This is where they’re made, from beginning to end.” Last year, Federal Heath Sign Company reports to have manufactured, assembled, crated, and shipped 1,077 custom sign products. At the end of the Federal Heath tour, student, Rhonica Hornis, shared with Mrs. Wright, "I just discovered what I'm going to do when I grow up! I want to be in career graphics! I love this job!"

In an effort to demonstrate to the visiting students just how exciting a job in manufacturing can be, SkyClimber’s Vice President of Operations, Mark Wigginton, explained that his job takes him to the tallest buildings and the deepest mine shafts. As a suspended scaffolding manufacturer, SkyClimber has been known to work on the Sears Tower, 1,400 feet in the air to install a cleaning system and also 5,000 feet deep in a mine shaft to perform work on an underground physics lab.

Delaware City Schools Superintendent Paul Craft is supportive of the effort to introduce middle school students to a variety of career options. "One of our key goals is ensuring that our students graduate from high school college and career ready. Exposing students to the types of challenging and exciting jobs available right here in Delaware is an important step in their career exploration. We are fortunate to have local businesses willing to give of their time and expertise to help us achieve that goal."

Mrs. Wright’s Dempsey students are continuing to look at various career fields to explore their options. Later this month, they are visiting Children’s Hospital to learn more about careers in the health field. In November, a speaker from the Columbus Builder’s Exchange will be visiting their classroom to talk about careers in construction.