Oakland County Manufacturing Day Goes Virtual

700 students explore career opportunities

Seven hundred students from 16 Oakland County school districts and four Oakland Schools Technical Campuses got a virtual look at what a future in a high-tech career might look like during Oakland County Manufacturing Day.

The students visited eight local advanced manufacturing companies virtually, highlighted by video tours of the operations, live online presentations by company employees and question and answer sessions where students submitted questions in real time.

“We’re very pleased with the continued success of Oakland County Manufacturing Day, including the impressive student participation in our first-ever online event,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “Students are learning differently during the COVID-19 pandemic, so we structured Manufacturing Day to keep everyone safe while providing an engaging, informative look at a number of advanced manufacturing operations in our county. Their feedback has been positive.”

This was the county’s sixth year of participation in National Manufacturing Day, which showcases the many in-demand, technology-driven engineering, industrial manufacturing and skilled trades career opportunities available to young adults. Oakland County, Oakland County Michigan Works! and Oakland Schools collaborated to organize the virtual event.

Schools were appreciative the event took place despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.

“Given our students are still virtual for instruction, it was nice to be able to still participate in Manufacturing Day remotely this year,” said North Farmington High School engineering instructor Amy Porter. “My students not only got to visit a local manufacturing company, but they got to learn more about the jobs available within the companies and the education and experience needed. They also got to see how industry has adapted and is managing to work during this time, too.”

The virtual format of Manufacturing Day allowed each company to engage with many more students than in the past. The eight companies attracted at least 80 students in their one-hour virtual sessions compared to 10-20 students at prior in-person events.

This year’s hosts were:

  • 3-Dimensional Services Group
  • Atlas Copco
  • Brose
  • Encore Automation
  • Hirotec
  • Hi-Tech Mold & Engineering
  • Prefix
  • Wenzel America

Wenzel America in Wixom has participated in Manufacturing Day for the past four years and Drew Shemenski, president, was eager to do it again in 2020 – even with the modified format.

“With the tools and support provided by the county, we were able to reach more students than our in-person events of the past,” Shemenski said. “Plus, we could still have a meaningful dialog with them, not only about our view of modern manufacturing, but also why they should aggressively pursue careers in manufacturing.”

Jennifer Orton, senior human resources manager at Prefix Corporation in Rochester Hills said virtual Manufacturing Day was a unique experience for everyone involved. It met her team’s objectives of showcasing the wide range of opportunities, the freedom given employees to learn new skills and pathway to develop a rewarding career.

“Our company is one of the few in the nation that produces such a wide variety of concepts, prototypes and wildly innovative transportation projects,” Orton said. “So it was very helpful to be able to answer the students’ questions during the live Q&A at the end of the tour.”

The success of the virtual event may lead to changes in Oakland County Manufacturing Day, said Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of the county’s workforce development division.

“The live, in-person tours are impactful, and I hope we can return to them in the future,” Llewellyn said.  “But the virtual format extends our reach to so many students and the videos we produced for a number of the participating companies allowed students to hear directly from a broad, diverse range of employees about their jobs, what they do each day and how they got there. Their voices are so powerful to the students. We hope to add other industries and occupations to the virtual event.”

Select company videos shown during the event can be seen on the Oakland County Michigan Work! website atwww.oaklandcountymiworks.com.

Oakland County Michigan Works! operates service centers in Novi, Oak Park, Pontiac, Southfield, Troy and Waterford. Combined, they assist more than 105,000 job seekers annually. Services include career coaching, interviewing and job search workshops, placement assistance, training courses and job trend information.

The service centers also assist more than 3,000 employers seeking assistance with talent recruitment, apprenticeship programs, job fairs, candidate pre-screening, hiring and training support, layoff support and labor market data.

Service center staffs remain available by virtual appointment to work one-on-one with job seekers to build their resumes, prepare for job interviews and help address other needs. To schedule a virtual meeting, call 1-248-858-5520 and select the office nearest to you. The service centers are hosting several virtual workshops for job seekers. A schedule is found at www.OaklandCountyMIWorks.com.