November 14, 2022--When you get right down to it, experience is always the best teacher.
That goes for educators as well as students. A textbook or a handout can rarely compete with getting your hands on what a page can only describe.
That’s the genesis behind the Jonesboro Unlimited (JU) Industry Educators Externship. A two-day immersive experience into the manufacturing world for educators, not students. The premise is to give local teachers an authentic look at the career opportunities in the manufacturing world for them to share with their students.
“Each year, we see the same spark in our teachers that they get to see in their students daily,” said Shelle Randall, Director of Workforce Development and Existing Industry for JU, “Those moments where the educators start to grasp how their students could have great careers in manufacturing are special.”
“We loved that we were able to host our local educators and showcase the career growth and earning potential within the manufacturing industry right here in Jonesboro,” said Andi Lett, Human Resources Associate Manager at Frito-Lay.
Frito-Lay was one of five manufacturers to host the 30 educators from Craighead and Poinsett Counties. Hytrol, Nestle, Nice-Pak, and Unilever, along with Frito-Lay, spent time with the teachers driving home that manufacturing offers careers from IT to a driving a forklift.
“I never realized how much was involved. These are great opportunities for our students,” one teacher said.
Another educator said, “The most valuable part was realizing what an asset our community has in our manufacturing facilities. I’ve lived here all my life and had so many misconceptions.”
You heard more than one of the participants call the opportunities for students in manufacturing “endless.”
“It was a benefit for both Unilever and the teachers to discuss the changing landscape of manufacturing and the type of worker that we will need to recruit in the future,” said Erik Gibson of Unilever, “It gave us the opportunity to show that above pay, there were many more opportunities in manufacturing for their students.”
Representatives from each company relished getting the chance to drive home the point that students don’t have to leave Jonesboro to have a great career. They let the teachers know that those careers are waiting, whether they want to get started right after graduation or if they want to get a degree first.
“Hytrol is privileged to have the opportunity to introduce educators to the vast career opportunities available in the manufacturing sector,” said Christy Valentine of Hytrol, “We hope this helps continue the conversation surrounding technical education and careers and encourages the celebration of those students choosing that path.”
And that is where you can file this experience under workforce development. Few people touch the lives of young people like a teacher. By educating educators about careers in manufacturing, they can be ambassadors for manufacturing by taking what they have learned and passing it on to their students.
That’s how you develop a workforce.