Education Matters: Learning the manufacturing industry

FRESNO COUNTY, California - Manufacturing day is an annual event where students and educators are invited inside some of the top manufacturing companies in Fresno County.

Many of the valley's manufacturing companies were eager for students and others to tour their facilities. It was an opportunity to improve the public perceptions of manufacturing today and show just how far the industry has come.

This is today's version of your dad's vocational education class, a class where students use computers to design and machines to build it.

The class, ROP engineering and manufacturing, at central east High School lets students design and build bridges. 

"The engineering aspect is the designing the structure making sure it's safe make sure it's designed properly and the manufacturing side is actually going out and facilitating that design where you are actually building things," said teacher Lance Tatro.

Tatro says students leave his class with something many young people don't have, skills.

"A lot of times kids leave high school and have no real job skills other than temporary job like fast food but here they can go out into the manufacturing world and be productive and contribute right away," stated Tatro.

Students get to see  how what their learning in class is used in the job market when they participate in manufacturing day.

"There is multiple areas in the valley where there is an opportunity in manufacturer, us being one," said Senior VP of Anlin Michael Roy.

On manufacturing day they tour some of the top company's in the valley…here students from Central East High School get an inside look at Anlin, one of the largest and best known window manufacturers in the state.

Michael Roy, senior vice president says he wants students to know what jobs are avilable to those with the right skills

"If they either go into industrial technology or engineering those are the kind of individuals that talent set that we could use out on the floor," mentioned Roy. 

Roy says while they do hire young people right out of high school, the better paying jobs require a college degree.

"It's going to help me because I get to know what things I need in order to get a job like in the technological field cause I know what it take like a 4 year degree," said Central East student Wanjiku Gichigi.

Students touring strategic mechanical, a custom fabrication company were encouraged by President Lonnie Petty to seek out apprenticeship programs

"It's important that they get immediately from high school right into an apprenticeship program or go to say city college and get a couple of years. They can get a welding certification, they can get air conditioning mechanics certifications, electrical certification," stated President of Strategic Mechanical Lonnie Petty.

The valley's top manufacturering companys want young people to know that the trade industry offers many great career opportunities with good paying jobs…the office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, which host manufacturing day says it hears from it's industry partners about the need for qualified workers.

"We need our students of the next generation to understand that this is a viable job opportunity and a viable career and so we need us to come along and provide an opportunity for those kids to learn the skills and we are ready to take on that next venture," said Director of CTEC Jonathan Delano. 

Jonathan Delano is the director of CTEC, the new career technical education charter school the office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools will be opening next fall. Delano and some of the teachers of the new high school were part of the tour…they say it was a great way to  put the focus on career tech education.

"Manufacturing day is such a crucial component of what we are trying to create over at CTEC a connection between industry and post secondary education. The kids need to recognize that when we're at school and we are learning about these different processes that they are able to apply it through all there different subject matters, that they can see their future ahead of them and they can begin to see that this job that seems down the road is really starting today in the classroom," mentioned Delano. 


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