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Short on workers manufacturers ramp up recruiting efforts

Tours at CMI and 19 local plants were part of National Manufacturing Day in Greenville and a push to get young people exposed to and excited about careers in advanced manufacturing. A sector that pays high wages but needs highly skilled workers.

October 9, 2017

Twelfth-grader Bryson Reeves says he is not interested in accruing "ridiculous amounts of debt" for college, but he was unsure what he would do after graduating from high school in the spring.

Cradling a business card from auto supplier Magna in his hand, Reeves got some clarity on Friday after touring Greenville Tech's Center for Manufacturing Innovation near CU-ICAR.

"I liked seeing all the machines," Reeves said. "It's so organized."

The Mauldin High School student joined about 400 other Greenville County teen-agers at the Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI) who, like himself, were at least open to a career in manufacturing or engineering.  

Tours at CMI and 19 local plants were part of National Manufacturing Day in Greenville and a push to get young people exposed to and excited about careers in advanced manufacturing — a sector that pays high wages but needs highly skilled workers typically with a two-year engineering or mechatronics degree in hand. Students saw first-hand how plants look and the wide variety of jobs available in them, CMI Director David Clayton said.

Across the Upstate, nearly 106,000 people work in the manufacturing sector, according to the Upstate SC Alliance in Greenville. Job growth in this sector from 2012 to 2016 was 13 percent, and unemployment across the region is at or just under four percent.

The challenge, employers across the region say, is that the current workforce is aging and young people lack the skills to replace them. According to Upstate SC Alliance, nearly a quarter of Upstate manufacturing employees — 24 percent — are 55 or older.

ABB maintenance engineer Roy Patterson was at CMI Friday to show off the industrial gears his company makes to students like Reeves. Switzerland-based ABB has operated a gear plant on Pelham Road in Greenville since 1977 — and some of its original employees are still there, said fellow ABB employee Larry Millwood.

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Tags:   Jobs & Economy
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Manufacturing sector hiring
Manufacturing sector hiring