FORT MITCHELL, Ky. — This past October, many Northern Kentucky manufacturers opened their doors to more than 500 students for Manufacturing Month tours.
Lorraine O’Moore, director of work-based learning at NaviGo Career & College Prep, is working hard to get local students more familiar with the manufacturing industry, and double the number of students participated in tours this year compared to last year.
For 2023, O’Moore helped organize 22 tours, which included involvement from 20 businesses, as well as 16 schools from seven Northern Kentucky counties, including Boone, Kenton, and Campbell.
These tours gave students firsthand experience of what it is like to work in the manufacturing field, while also helping manufacturers develop strong partnerships and build robust talent pipelines within these schools.
On Oct. 6, celebrated as Manufacturing Day throughout the country, Holcim Building Envelope hosted 22 eighth grade students from St. Paul Catholic School in Florence.
The students’ perceptions of the manufacturing industry changed after the tour. They viewed Holcim as a cleaner facility than they had previously envisioned, and more students said they would consider a career in manufacturing after the tour than before.
Gateway Community and Technical College also hosted 11 manufacturing companies and 141 students from nine high schools at their Boone and Urban Metro campuses.
“We’re excited about the success of Manufacturing Day, and it seems to just keep getting bigger and better each year,” said Sam Collier, Gateway’s dean of manufacturing & transportation technology. “Our manufacturing industry plays a crucial role in the growth of our region. We see that it’s not only reshaping businesses but also creating a lot of opportunities within the local workforce. Hosting employers and students during manufacturing month here at Gateway is always a huge win. It gives students the opportunity to witness firsthand the impact and potential of the industry. By bridging the gap between education and industry, we can successfully prepare the next generation of manufacturing professionals.”
The advanced manufacturing workforce is expected to see nine percent employment growth between 2020-2025. Over the past three years, BE NKY Growth Partnership has announced more than 1,600 new jobs in this industry sector.
“Hiring continues to be a top challenge for NKY companies, including those in manufacturing,” said BE NKY Workforce Development Manager Kim Spreder. “It’s vitally important that young people are exposed to these future career opportunities.”
In her four years in her role, O’Moore said she has seen changes in attitudes at schools and within students, who are more open to opportunities outside of just getting a four-year college degree.
“I think the mentality is beginning to change because of exposure,” she said.
BE NKY Growth Partnership, the economic development company for Northern Kentucky, provides businesses with the expertise they need to build opportunity in Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties.
Gateway Community & Technical College has served Northern Kentucky as its only community college for nearly 25 years. Gateway offers over 30 affordable, transferable associate degree programs in general, career, and technical education, and more than 200 short-term, industry-driven certificates that lead to fulfilling careers in many high-demand fields. Its tuition is the lowest in the state. Registration is open and Gateway is now enrolling for spring 2024 classes.
Founded in 2011, NaviGo College & Career Prep Services, a Learning Grove organization, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that equips businesses, parents and schools to better prepare students for post-secondary success and workforce readiness. It increases student access and opportunity through coaching and work-based learning using student-specific assessment information, NaviGo’s proprietary curriculum, and MyCareerE3 — an online tool that permits schools and businesses to connect. NaviGo serves 23 Kentucky and two Ohio school districts (including public, private, parochial, and home-schooled students).