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Manufacturing month geared toward tomorrow

John Barrette
jbarrette@nevadaappeal.com

Manufacturing Day and Month next month in and around Carson City will focus like a laser beam on industrial career options that take grit but aren’t gritty.

The goal when it kicks off on Manufacturing Day, Oct. 2, is to reach parents, students and anyone interested in helping forge workers of the future in a bid to help them understand industrial opportunities of today and tomorrow are keyed to technology, left grimy production work in now absent dust, and these new jobs pay well, as they will into the foreseeable future.

“It’s a different environment than people understand,” said Rob Hooper, president and treasurer of Dream It, Do It in Carson City. Hooper, also executive director of Carson City-based Northern Nevada Development Authority, said Dream It Do It is a spinoff program nationally of the Manufacturing Institute, an arm of the National Association of Manufacturers, and the local organization has been active in this region for years.

“Not everybody wants to be a manufacturer; not everybody should be,” said Hooper. But Dream It Do It, in cooperation with area governing officials, educators, businesses — particularly manufacturers — is stressing that part of career options in the month ahead. Said Hooper: “What Dream It Do It does is get students and teachers into manufacturing plants.”

He said it also emphasizes training, coupled with certification that comes from it, but doesn’t confine itself to touting one career path. He said whether someone wants to get into industry, medical technology, writing, anything, the massage is if you can dream it, you can do it. “Having a career is actually a good goal,” he stressed as the overall message.

That said, Hooper and the organization’s George Gussak currently are concentrating on the industrial side of the equation with the kickoff event slated for the Governor’s Mansion Annex with a breakfast the first Friday in October.

Gussak, the director and the manager of outreach development, said the 7 a.m. breakfast gathering will bring together folks from industry, educators and trainers along with government officials for dialogue. But it’s just the start of the next push, reaching even beyond October in an ongoing effort to change the image of industry and forge new attention on a growing need while encouraging career path options for students.

“This is just the month that we kick off the year,” he said. “We’ll start opening up the doors to the shop floor, dentist offices, hospitals.”

For the month, however, he is lining up field trips for students to manufacturers so both students and their instructors see what Hooper explained — that industry is vastly different from a half or quarter century ago.

“Carson High School will be involved in local company tours,” Gussak said. “WNC (Western Nevada College) will be working on their open house. If we look regionally, we have over 25 schools in just the Reno and Sparks area involved in company tours.” He also said Truckee Meadows Community College will have an open house in its technology and machining area, while other tours will go on at Fernley, Fallon, Dayton and in Douglas County.

“Geeks and nerds of the world are finding a footing and acceptance by peers like never before,” said Gussak. “And yet, in this era of change the manufacturing sector — the one sector within Nevada with the highest degree of potential growth — is still unable to attract the young to its fold.” He said the time has come to alter that.

“The when and the why are obvious; now, because the aging workforce in manufacturing will be bleeding employees in the next 10 years as Baby Boomers head toward retirement,” he said.

That creates opportunity for youths if Dream It Do It and others understanding the sound pay, challenging work and ample opportunities can reach this and coming generations, according to Gussak. He has a vision toward which he wants to point present and future interests.

“Where the world once lauded the efforts of athletes and media personalities,” he said, “in decades ahead we might start to see the world recognizing technology and the stars that ride those waves.”