The Development Authority of Bulloch County works with the Bulloch County Schools and local industries to give eighth-graders a close-up look at manufacturing jobs, now twice each year.
On two recent Fridays, groups of students spent over half a day with either a manufacturer of small engines, a maker of flow meters for the petroleum industry, a manufacturer of refrigerated and custom truck trailers or a fabricator of architectural glass.
Almost 160 eighth-grade students from four schools and the alternative program visited participating industries for Manufacturing Day last fall.
Many of the same students returned for the spring event, called Future Manufacturers of Bulloch County, April 27 and May 4, said Rachel Barnwell, the Development Authority’s manager of economic development programs.
“Our hope in this every year is that we’re bringing awareness to manufacturing and letting students see the opportunities that are in manufacturing as they move on to high school and pick their pathways, because they’re our future workforce,” Barnwell said.
Manufacturing Day, a nationally recognized event in October, has been observed here for several years with an effort to inform students about manufacturing careers before they choose their career pathways for high school.
The local organizers added Future Manufacturers days beginning in the spring of 2017 as a way to follow up and maintain students’ interest.
“We felt like we needed to re-engage the same students that go through the fall event at another opportunity in the spring, so we got together with the industries, and this was started around Manufacturing Appreciation Week, which is in April for the state of Georgia,” Barnwell said.
After calling on counselors and teachers to identify students who are interested, the school system provides transportation on school buses to these events.
Last fall, the students were divided into groups so that every student visited three different industries for brief tours. But organizers sought to give returning students a more in-depth, hands-on experience of the available jobs with the Future Manufacturers spring activity.
“The schools surveyed the kids to see which industries they were interested in visiting, and we tried to give them all at least their first or second choice because what happens is they are set into group to go to one industry for the full day,” Barnwell said.
For example, at Briggs & Stratton, students took part in a class, usually reserved for new employees, where they were shown how an engine is assembled. Some also went through an “onboarding” process illustrating what their first day on the job would be like.
Eighth-grade students from Portal Middle High School, Langston Chapel Middle School, William James Middle School and Transitions Learning Center were guests of Briggs & Stratton, Brodie International, Great Dane and Viracon on the first of the two Fridays, April 27.
On the second Friday, May 4, groups of eighth-graders from Southeast Bulloch Middle School spent all morning into early afternoon at Briggs & Stratton, Brodie International and Great Dane.
Ogeechee Technical College, which provided a final stop and lunch for the fall event, was not involved in the spring event. So the industries themselves provided lunch for their student guests.