Prep for Success

As part of its Prep for Success program, the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing organized trips to local manufacturing facilities for fifty students interested in pursuing careers in manufacturing from Buchanan, Scott, Smyth, and Washington County Schools throughout March and April. Smyth and Washington County students began their day at Utility Trailer Manufacturing, Co. in Glade Spring, Virginia on March 31st. Washington County students finished their day at Universal Fibers in Bristol, Virginia. Scott County students visited Tempur + Sealy in Duffield, Virginia on April 4th and Buchanan County students toured West River Conveyors in Oakwood, Virginia on April 8th.

The Prep for Success program included detailed tours of each facility. Students were also given multiple presentations at each place. Each tour began with the plant manager talking with the students about their company and giving a short explanation of what they were about to see on the tour. Later, each company had a human resources representative talk to the students about finding jobs in the future. Students were given information and tips on applying for jobs, creating resumes, best interview practices, and being a good, reliable employee. While at the facilities, students also had the opportunity to talk with employees in various roles to get a better understanding of the experience of working in manufacturing. Employees discussed how and why they entered the manufacturing field, as well as why they remained in the industry. They also talked about their day to day tasks, and what the manufacturing environment was like in general. The manufacturing facilities either gave students gifts or provided lunch… or both! Tempur + Sealy went as far as to give each participant a Tempur Pedic pillow!!

Connie Wyatt, Jobs for Virginia Graduates Specialist at Smyth Career and Technology Center stated, “The students from Career and Technology Center enjoyed the presentation and tour of the Utility facility in Glade Spring, VA. While there, they learned about the process of building a trailer and the various job opportunities including benefits.” Mary Walker, for Virginia Graduates Specialist at Washington County Career and Technology Center said, “At the Washington County CTE Center, highly qualified instructors, work hard to teach our students skills and provide them with the essential tools that can equip them to work within the manufacturing career. The SVAM industry tours were an excellent way for these students to witness how the knowledge and credentials that they have, in return, earned can be put to work, not only to build top of the line products, but also to build a solid foundation for their future.” Students were also surveyed about their experience and their responses were overwhelmingly positive. Many students made comments about being surprised to find out the career opportunities in manufacturing were so diverse. Other students stated that they now had an idea of the type of work they would like to do in the future. Some even stated they planned on applying for work at the companies they visited once they graduated!

These were part of a series of tours in local manufacturing facilities to give students in Southwest Virginia the opportunity to learn more about manufacturing and get a firsthand account of the work environment in these facilities.