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    Patrick Osborne

    Millennials find opportunities in today’s high-tech manufacturing
    A survey by Opinion Research Corp. reveals positive news about the upcoming generation. The survey showed that while only 23 percent of baby boomers thought of manufacturing as a high-tech career choice, 37 percent of millennials understand that high-tech possibilities await them in manufacturing.While the manufacturing industry has plenty of outreach to do with the next generation, these results are encouraging. The Technology and Manufacturing Association (TMA), based in Schaumburg, is doing our part by laying the foundation for the next generation of manufacturing. We provide grants to local schools, allowing students to cultivate an interest in manufacturing. In fact, TMA donated nearly $265,000 to local high schools in 2017 alone.A few months ago, we stepped out into uncharted territory by creating a groundbreaking collaboration with Ridgewood High School in Norridge. Ridgewood educators were searching for ways to offer students as many pathways as possible in seeking a career and did not have the ability to build and maintain a new manufacturing training facility. TMA already had the necessary facilities and instructors, so we partnered together.Ridgewood High School can now offer manufacturing classes to their senior high school students who are interested in a manufacturing career. These students can now learn precision manufacturing skills such as math, tool metrology, and precision measurement reading. Through this partnership, they can receive certifications and learn about the high-paying, high-precision manufacturing jobs of today.Why is this important? Because it is estimated that nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed over the next decade, yet 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled due to the skills gap. Our kids are graduating college with thousands of dollars in debt and no guaranteed jobs, handcuffing their futures, when they could be making more than $100,000 a year with no college debt, if they had a STEM education.We’re making progress in changing perceptions. It’s encouraging to see that millennials are increasingly seeing a manufacturing career as a viable option. We have to stay the course and continue engaging the community so students gain a better understanding of today’s high-tech manufacturing industry. I keep using “we” because we as Illinoisans have a lot to gain from a thriving manufacturing industry.Patrick Osborne is vice president of training and education for the Technology and Manufacturing Association, a Schaumburg-based advocacy organization for Midwest manufacturers.

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    Elk Grove tree lighting and concert was a blast, as usual
    Letter to the editor: Jim Costas and his wife had a great time at the Elk Grove tree lighting and concert.

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