Spring 2024 Opportunities in Manufacturing Presentations

SVAM presented to over 750 students at career and technology schools throughout Southwest Virginia in March and April. The schools included Grayson Co. Career and Tech Center, Russell Co. Career and Tech School, Scott Co. Career and Tech School, Smyth Co. Career and Tech School, Galax Career and Tech School, Washington Co. Neff Center, and Carroll Co. Technology Center. The purpose of doing these presentations was to help students understand career opportunities in manufacturing. This presentation was titled Opportunities in Manufacturing. It included little-known manufacturing facts, information about careers in manufacturing, pathways into manufacturing fields, and the SVAM Manufacturing Scholarship.

The presentation began with a discussion regarding the importance of manufacturing. Most students were surprised to learn that manufacturing impacts their lives in several ways daily. After the importance of manufacturing was established, the presentation transitioned to manufacturers in Southwest Virginia. Students were asked how many manufacturers were located in Southwest Virginia; most answers were less than fifty, so students were shocked to learn that there are nearly 350. After students were made aware of the many places they could someday work, the presentation discussed why manufacturing should be considered a desirable field to enter. The first reason is that nearly 80% of manufacturing workers are aged 45-65, which means many jobs will be available to them soon. Students were surprised to learn that manufacturing workers make almost $10,000 more than the average annual salary of somebody living in Southwest Virginia.

After explaining why students should consider going into a manufacturing-related field, the presentation discussed the different career pathways they could take. To make this presentation useful to all students, it used examples of careers that required technical certifications as well as four-year degrees. This part of the presentation focused on the cost of furthering their education and the time it would take to get certified and/or earn a degree.

There was a focus on different resources available to students to assist with paying for school; this included the SVAM scholarship. The scholarship is only available to students pursuing manufacturing-related fields. Many students didn’t realize they could qualify for the scholarship due to the career they planned on pursuing until the presentation focused on careers in manufacturing that most people don’t think about; this included business-related careers, computer-related careers, mathematics, and engineering careers. The majority of questions from students at every school were whether or not their career plans could somehow relate to manufacturing; most of the time, the answer was yes.

Many students expressed interest in applying for the SVAM Manufacturing Scholarship and stated that most of the presentation contained brand-new information. Faculty and staff at multiple schools also expressed interest in working more closely with SVAM to further impact both students and teachers regarding opportunities in manufacturing.