The career fair was organized by the Gateway Coalition, a group of educators, industry representatives and other community leaders dedicated to creating awareness among middle and high school students about careers in manufacturing and the skilled trades. The group is being led by the North Indiana Chapter of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA).
Since 2015, Gateway Coalition members have gone into Allen County schools and spoken to more than 3,700 middle and high school students about career pathways in manufacturing and the skilled trades. More than 50 high school counselors have gone on plant tours arranged by the Gateway Coalition.
MADEBYME, meanwhile, is a regional manufacturing/construction awareness campaign launched three years ago by Northeast Indiana Works and supported by a website (www.madebyme.me) that offers information about certification-based employment needs among northeast Indiana manufacturers and skilled trades employers; general wage information; and a list of providers offering Career and Technical Education (CTE) training. Northeast Indiana Works is part of the Gateway Coalition.
Future planned activities of the Gateway Coalition include legislative advocacy to assist educators in developing skills-based curricula; partnering with Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana on classroom presentations; and arranging student field trips to local manufacturers and construction companies.
In the next decade, the manufacturing and construction industries combined in northeast Indiana will need 31,075 more workers, according to an analysis released by Northeast Indiana Works.
“These are obviously critical industries to Allen County and the region and it is imperative that we develop and retain enough talent to meet employers’ needs,” said Cathy Waggoner, director of business development at the Design Collaborative and an IFMA member. “The career fair is just one step in ensuring students are exposed to information about pathways that will lead to self- or family-sustaining careers – and the training and certifications they’ll need to make that happen.”