While students at area high schools give thought to future careers and the educational paths that will help them achieve their goals, manufacturing jobs don’t always capture the attention.

Local businesses, directors of the economic development, the schools and the Elk River Area of Chamber of Commerce have banded together to make sure outdated perceptions don’t keep them from considering manufacturing careers.

The Elk River Workforce Development Task Force is hosting a Cool Jobs Tour on Oct. 16 as part of Manufacturing Week initiatives to give students, parents and the community an inside look at local manufacturing.

“There are many outstanding career opportunities in the manufacturing field, and we hope this tour will highlight the state-of-the-art facilities, advanced technologies and fast-paced, interesting work environments that are available,” said Dan Weber, Sherburne County assistant administrator and economic development specialist.

Planned activities will begin at 5:45 p.m. Oct. 16 with a free dinner hosted by Preferred Powder Coating in Elk River. Following a brief presentation, participants will choose to tour any two of the following companies: Abra Autobody and Glass, Alliance Machine, Distinctive Iron, Elk River Machine Co., MetalCraft, Preferred Powder Coating and Sportech. Registration is required and can be done online at https://goo.gl/sKdpk9.

Participants will be able to see for themselves the:

•Variety of career opportunities available at local companies (wages, job skills, responsibilities, benefits).

•Pathways to building the knowledge and skills needed to qualify for today’s jobs.

•Purpose and value of the modern manufacturing companies located in the community.

Manufacturing Day is an annual national event executed at the local level supported by thousands of manufacturers as they host students, teachers, parents, job seekers and other local community members at open houses, plant tours and presentations designed to showcase modern manufacturing technology and careers.

“There is an increasing demand for highly skilled professionals in the manufacturing sector who can design, program and operate technology,” said Patricia Sanford, career and college specialist for the Elk River Area School District. “The average age of a manufacturing employee is 56, and between now and 2020 there will be an unprecedented shortage of skilled workers who will need to be replaced.”

The Workforce Development Task Force was convened by the Elk River Chamber of Commerce and receives funding through the Initiative Foundation . Members include representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, Sherburne County, District 728 and local businesses.

More information on Manufacturing Day is available at www.mfgday.com.

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