LOWVILLE — Over 200 students in eighth through 12th grades toured Lewis County manufacturers on National Manufacturing Day Oct. 17.
Lewis, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties joined forces to set up simultaneous tours that will show the students what modern manufacturing looks like and, ideally, to pique their interest in joining the work force in the future.
That is exactly how it worked at Johnson Lumber Company, where over 50 students visited in two groups.
According to Pamela Staub-Johnson, one of the Johnson family who was involved in the day, two seniors said that they would return to apply for jobs as soon as they graduate in the spring.
“We were delighted to give the opportunity to tour our facility to the students and for them to see the kind of work they can do here,” Mrs. Staub-Johnson said.
In a news release, the Lewis County Economic Development Office spokeswoman Brittany Berus-Davis said they hope to “show our next generation how they can make a difference and find future careers in manufacturing,” and expose them to the types of jobs available.
In the tri-county area, about 900 students toured 22 local manufacturers and, in some cases, did some hands-on activities to illustrate what working in that business involves.
Staffing challenges for manufacturers often involve finding people with the right skills, which has been a hot topic across the nation, but Mrs. Staub-Johnson said finding young workers with a strong work ethic can also be a challenge.
“I talked to them about staying power. I told them if they last a day, they can last a week. And if they last a week, they can last a month. And if they last a month, they can make it to a year,” she told the young visitors to the mill.
In addition to Johnson’s Lumber, Lewis County students also experienced Grand Slam Safety, Croghan; Neenah Paper, Lowville; QubicaAMF, Lowville; Lydall Performance Materials, Beaver Falls; Omniafiltra, Beaver Falls; OTIS Technology, Lyons Falls; and Viking-Cives, Harrisville.
Like Johnson’s, most of these manufacturers are constantly accepting applications and have ongoing recruitment.
On the national level, Manufacturing Day was created by the Manufacturing Institute, part of the National Association of Manufacturers, while tri-county areas’ participation was coordinated by the Jefferson-Lewis Workforce Development offices, Lewis County Economic Development, Jefferson County Economic Development, CITEC Business Solutions and the Jeff-Lewis BOCES.