While participants were having fun at this week’s Creators Wanted stop in Decatur, Illinois, the nationwide tour and its mobile experience were doing something, too: moving the needle on people’s perceptions of modern manufacturing.
What went on: Over the course of three days, more than 800 students from 13 area middle schools, high schools and community colleges poured into Richland Community College to learn about manufacturing careers. Also present were many educators and parents.
- Attendees “raced to the future” in the Creators Wanted mobile experience, solving various manufacturing-related challenges as they wound through the escape room.
- They heard panel talks from manufacturing leaders and team members and learned about some of the industry’s many perks, including great wages, flexible schedules, upward mobility, chances to earn and learn and more.
- Interactive activities, set up and run by manufacturers and the campaign’s recruiting partner, FactoryFix, were designed to garner interest—and display some of the real work done every day in modern manufacturing.
- This included virtual-reality paint and assembly training from Creators Wanted host sponsor Caterpillar, as well as a hazard-awareness simulator, a drink-making station and a laser-system exhibit from host sponsor ADM. Richland Community College took students on a tour through its state-of-the-art lab.
Generation inspired: Manufacturing leaders at ADM, Caterpillar and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, which together brought the tour to Decatur, got the chance to galvanize crowds.
- Said IMA President and CEO Mark Denzler: “Manufacturing makes the world a better place to live every day. Some of you are going to find the next cure for a disease. You’re going to build the next robot.”
- “For anyone who really is looking for a career that you can get into that is good-paying, that will provide you an opportunity to progress, consider manufacturing,” Caterpillar Group President of Resource Industries (and NAM Executive Committee member) Denise Johnson told the crowd.
- Following the event, students were indeed inspired. “It kind of changed my mind on what I want to do in the future,” one student
- “It was amazing,” said another. “I’d think about doing this for a career.”
Shoring up the shortage: The lack of skilled workers has been a pain point for manufacturers for several years now—and it’s a problem Creators Wanted aims to fix.
- “Programs like Creators Wanted are crucial in narrowing the workforce shortage in manufacturing and also showcasing the many opportunities within the manufacturing industry,” said ADM Senior Vice President of Global Operations and NAM board member Veronica Braker.
Meeting people where they are: “How do you get more young people interested in the field [of manufacturing]?” 25 News WEEK-TV anchor Erin Brown asked in a segment for the Peoria, Illinois, news station. “The answer could be more hands-on experiences with businesses like Caterpillar and ADM.”