Sep 09, 2015
When 17-year-old Brian Dardon told his mother he wanted to pursue a career in manufacturing, she was full of apprehension.
To Diane Dardon, a Protestant chaplain at a Chicago university, manufacturing meant performing rote, unskilled tasks with little job security.
"It all seemed so much less than exciting as a career prospect for him," she said.
But then Brian took an internship at local manufacturer Engis Corporation, where he was asked to brainstorm to fill customer orders. His mother now sees that an industrial job can offer a "creative outlet for his talents."
Brian has just started his senior year at Wheeling High School in the Chicago suburbs, and his school district offers a manufacturing program with companies in the "Golden Corridor," a long strip rich in manufacturers that runs through the northwestern suburbs. Brian now plans to go to college to pursue qualifications that will prepare him for a career in manufacturing.
The future of manufacturing in the U.S. will largely be shaped by the strength of the U.S. dollar, energy costs and the outcome of trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But companies face a human challenge too - how to recruit young Americans to replace millions of Baby Boom-generation employees retiring over the next decade.
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