Regional employers and educators signed an annual agreement to support manufacturing jobs March 25 at Anoka Technical College.

For the third year students, educators and manufacturing employers gathered to sign a proclamation that signifies their intent to promote manufacturing jobs through education and placement in the manufacturing industry.

John LeTourneau, director of manufacturing for the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce, spoke first. He addressed the importance of filling manufacturing jobs in the area.

“I think you are all aware that all of our employers in the community, especially manufacturing, are very much interested in finding work,” LeTourneau said. “We’ve got a lot of openings, we’ve got a lot of growth and a lot of opportunity.”

During his speech LeTourneau said there are 130,000 jobs across 11 sectors in the region, 19 percent of which are in the manufacturing industry. In some communities, manufacturing rises to closer to 30 percent of jobs, he said.

LeTourneau also said that while the average wage of those 11 industries is $50,000 annually, manufacturing bumps up to almost $77,000 a year.

After his speech, dozens of high school students stood up to sign a pledge to continue their education into a manufacturing job.

After pledging their intent, students were free to speak with manufacturers and learn about potential careers.

“This is really about introductions,” LeTourneau said. “We are trying to create some introductions and create some relationships.”

The proclamation acknowledged that developing a workforce is a multiphase process that starts with education and includes locating well-paying jobs for students trained in the industry.

While not a legal document, the proclamation outlines the intent of interested students, educational facilities and employers to work together to fill manufacturing jobs in the area, LeTourneau said.

Within the manufacturing industry, a variety of options for careers exist, according to Jon Olson, director of professional and workforce training with Anoka Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

He used the example of Matthew Rogers, a machine shop instructor at Anoka Tech, as a example of the flexibility manufacturing careers can have.

“He went to school here, he went to work in industry and now he’s back here teaching, so there’s all kinds of ways you can slice and dice to keep a good career and job in manufacturing,” Olson said.

Olson encourages Anoka-Hennepin District students who are considering a manufacturing career to consider the Secondary Technical Education Program, also known as STEP.

STEP offers students a chance to learn various trades and have those classes count as college credit.

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