Shakopee, Chaska and Prior Lake-Savage high school students had a chance last week on National Manufacturing Day to hear directly from local companies about opportunities in skilled trades.
CommScope, Imagine Print Solutions, Rahr Corporation, Dem-Con metal recycling, CertainTeed, Shutterfly and Entrust Datacard — all Shakopee companies — sent representatives to the three area high schools as part of a Shakopee Chamber and Visitors Bureau initiative to show students the manufacturing industry provides sustainable, well-paid jobs with opportunities for advancement.
Elliot Johnson, vice president of development with the Shakopee Chamber, said Shakopee is unique because there are so many manufacturing opportunities within the city.
"We touch every kind of manufacturing you can think of," Johnson said.
More than 650 students among all three high schools attended the various presentations, Johnson said. With industry expectations of 3.5 million additional manufacturing jobs in the next decade, the opportunities are vast, and many of those are in students' backyards.
Director of North American Operations for Brewers Supply Group John Daniels spoke at Shakopee High School as a representative of Rahr Malting. In an interview after his presentation, Daniels said Shakopee graduates are well respected and desired job candidates at Rahr because of the education they receive in town.
"We're going to open doors, but especially out of Shakopee High School," Daniels said. "What you guys have here is really unique. You're getting a lot of experience here."
Mike York, vice president of engineering and maintenance at Rahr, said the Academies of Shakopee will be a great investment when it comes to the manufacturing industry and other trades.
"The investments they've made ... have opened kids' eyes to the opportunities out there," York said.
York and Daniels noted the students were engaged and asked questions after their presentation.
"They've got something special here," Daniels added. "They're really engaging students."