By Rich Rovito, Industry Reporter, WMEP
Wanting to expose younger people to careers in manufacturing, Badger Meter opened its doors to a group of excited and curious Racine middle-school students.
The tour of Badger Meter’s factory in Mount Pleasant in Racine County, where flow meters are produced, took place as part of Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin.
“We are hoping that if they get excited about what they see, they will continue on with their courses,” said Dominic Cariello, general manager of the Mount Pleasant operations.
About 125 employees work at the plant, which features 190,000 square feet overall, about 125,000 square feet of which is dedicated to direct manufacturing.
Reggie Newson, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, addressed the students before joining them for a tour.
“If you really want to help people and make a difference, think about being able to make and build things. Without those people we won’t be able to be a productive country,” Newson said. “There is a lot of opportunity for you to go to work and earn a wage and at the same time make a difference.”
Newson told the students that they are getting a head start on a possible career path in manufacturing by visiting the Badger Meter plant.
“Most people your age don’t have the opportunity to come into a company like this to see how it all works,” he said.
He urged students to tell their parents or guardians about what they experienced.
“If we don’t have young people like you filling those jobs, we can’t keep those jobs here, and we can’t be a great state and be prosperous,” Newson said.
In an interview before the tour, Newson said it is important for him and other state officials to visit companies around the state this month to showcase manufacturing.
He noted that nearly 500,000 jobs are tied to manufacturing in Wisconsin and there are nearly 10,000 companies that employ workers with jobs in manufacturing.
“It’s one of our state’s economic drivers,” he said.
It’s important not only to introduce young people to careers in manufacturing but also the underemployed, the unemployed and dislocated workers, Newson added.
“With the right upskilling and training they can get a job in manufacturing that is a middle-class job that will create a pathway into prosperity,” Newson said.
Getting manufacturers to open their doors to prospective employees is crucial, Newson said.
“You have manufacturers throughout the state in October that are bringing students and their parents and guardians into plants who may have a perception of manufacturing as dumb, dirty and dangerous.”
Getting them into the plants is sure to change their perception, Newson said.