Manufacturing jobs, one of the pillars of northwest Ohio’s economy, aren’t the eye-candy careers that school-age children usually desire. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is trying to change that with a wave of camps aimed at fourth through eighth graders to stir interest and even excitement in factory work.
There are no tents and no campfires involved. But the weeklong programs this summer will be attended by hundreds of Ohio children, a novel education device Mr. Brown came up with six years ago. He has encouraged local officials to add more camps each year.
In general, people want more manufacturing in their communities, but they often don’t want their children to go into those occupations, partly because factory work is still thought of as dirty and outdated. But today’s manufacturing has many high-technology, high-skilled positions that often pay salaries of $16 an hour and more.
The camps help show the reality of modern manufacturing. Ohio will have 27 of them this summer in 21 counties, including one in Allen County. In most cases the camps are free and include five days of activities, including visits to several nearby plants or warehouses.
The days, organized by leaders in local schools, economic development and business, are chock-full of information, hands-on projects, in-person witnessing of various types of jobs, and sometimes even viewing the making of a product from start to finish.
In Allen County, the camp focused on advanced manufacturing and food manufacturing. It runs July 29-Aug. 2. To sign up, email Doug Durliat at Durliat.D@RhodedsState.edu or call 419-995-8353.
“This is to expose children to viable options, giving them possible career opportunities,” said Cassandra Seimet, a career-tech education specialist with Toledo Public Schools who is coordinating the district’s first such camp for students under high-school age through Friday. That itinerary will include visits to the University of Toledo’s robotics program, Detroit Manufacturing, Hirzel Canning, and Rudolph Libbe.
In Wood County, the July 15-19 program is still being developed but will include visits to Northwood Industries, Owens-Illinois’ laboratory facilities, Penta Career Center and possibly a local distribution facility. In the past, First Solar’s Perrysburg Township plant has been included. Thirty children ages 11 to 13 are expected to attend.
On the last day of the camps and afterward, the students usually rave about the fun and experiences they had. It spurs them to think about pursuing such jobs. For participating businesses, it’s a sales job, possibly luring youths into occupations that are in demand now and are expected to be in the future.
The five-day immersion provides a better imprint on students than what similarly occurs on National Manufacturing Day in the fall.
The camps, even without s’mores, are a smart idea and should be considered by local officials in all Ohio counties and in other states.