When polled by Chicago-based research group C+R, 20% of teens said they want to be artists, entertainers, athletes, media, and communication workers. The idea isn’t surprising, as young people are immersed in media depicting the glamor and excitement of celebrities fulfilling these careers. While these can be lucrative and fulfilling occupations, just 2% of the workforce is actually employed by the industry. So how do we close this disparity and open students’ eyes to the exciting possibilities surrounding them?
In early December a team of volunteers from Morton Industries helped us in our mission to connect role models with students and spark interest in careers in the world of manufacturing - an industry that employs nearly 10% of the Illinois workforce and encompasses a wide variety of interests and education levels. Steve Stewart, Director of Organizational Development at Morton Industries, explained why a busy employer would take the time to reach out to students not yet in the job market. Steve emphasized, “It’s vital to get the message out about careers in manufacturing - about what it is today with technology and the variety of opportunities people have in the manufacturing industry.” Meeting virtually with students from the Peoria Regional Learning Center, team members from Morton Industries delivered a virtual tour to share information about their career and education paths. “Kids often only hear what their parents or grandparents are doing,” noted Steve, “so it was important to show them what we have available; whether it’s sales, purchasing, HR, accounting, machining, quality, or welding.” Students and educators alike enjoyed the inside look at the business and benefited from additional resources provided the new JA Connect Learning Pathways site. With the help of partners like Morton Industries, we continue to inspire and prepare students as they explore their skills and interests.