Beaver Valley IU 27: Paving the way for careers in manufacturing

Manufacturing of the 21st century offers good, family-sustaining jobs, but business leaders struggle to find people with the skills and credentials to fill them. Median annual wages are typically higher than wages for other jobs, and employers are quick to snap up people trained as machinists, maintenance technicians, welders, and other needed positions.

Now, Beaver Valley Intermediate Unit 27 is helping close the gap, through membership in the Beaver County Energy & Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. The collaborative introduces students to careers, and businesspeople to schools, “connecting the dots between education and business,” saidMarsha Hughes, instructional technology specialist at Beaver Valley IU 27.

Winners include students who discover that their interests have workforce applications, businesses assured a steady supply of workers, and schools implementing Pennsylvania’s Career Education and Work Standards to prepare students for career fulfilment.

For its part in the partnership, BVIU works with the partnership to plan the annual, middle school-focused Energy & Advanced Manufacturing Day, held at Community College of Beaver County. Students from 14 school districts and public charter schools explore interactive displays on construction, oil and gas exploration, robotics, electronics, and other fields. At a specially designed food truck, students jumped on a device to power the griddles that fried crepes. One exhibitor has immersed students in welding – safely, through virtual reality glasses.

At the event, students hear real-life people – from women in engineering, to a stand-up comedian who switched to marketing – talk about how they went from childhood interests to academic studies to satisfying careers.

By targeting middle school, the event helps students create academic tracks pointing toward their career interests, “before their high school courses are set in stone,” Hughes said.

To educate parents on the possibilities inherent in manufacturing careers, BVIU is also helping the partnership plan a unique event in spring 2019. Families will be invited to an awards ceremony for a video contest, sponsored by Catalyst Connections, that sends out student teams to answer the question, “What’s so cool about manufacturing?”

BVIU is proud to be part of the Energy and Advanced Partnership, which provides the experiences that spark student’s career interests, said Hughes.

“Four-year college degrees are not necessarily the right career path for every student,” said Hughes. “Everyone has different learning styles and learning strengths that might be better met via a two-year or certification program. Exposing students to a variety of career options and choices early in their academic life could set the stage for fulfilling careers that match their expertise.”
 

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