Manufacturing “Is the Place to Be”: Creators Wanted Wraps Up Freeport Stop

As job recruiters rush back to campuses and career fairs nationwide, the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute’s Creators Wanted Tour Live continued to help manufacturers stand out in the competitive labor market this week in Freeport, Texas.

The reach: The three-day tour stop, presented by Creators Wanted Legacy Sponsor Dow, drew more than 800 students to Brazosport ISD’s new Career and Technical Education Center.

  • More than 25,000 students and career mentors signed up online to learn more about modern manufacturing careers.
  • Students came from all over the area, including from Brazoswood, Angleton, Brazosport, Columbia and Sweeny High Schools.

Who’s who: Students and teachers got access to top industry leaders, including:

  • Dow Senior Vice President of Operations, Manufacturing and Engineering John Sampson;
  • Dow Vice President of Operations for the Gulf Coast Fernando Signorini;
  • Cornerstone Building Brands Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Katy Theroux;
  • Dow Plants A&B Manufacturing Director for Texas Operations Sharon Hulgan; and
  • BASF Corporation Vice President of Operations, Polyamide & Precursors Deborah McKitten.

These leaders joined creators at their companies, as well as team members at Fluor Corporation, on livestreamed panels throughout the stop to discuss their career journeys and offer advice to students. Here are some of the themes of the event.

Inclusion and diversity: Manufacturing is “for all,” said Dow Associate Research & Development Director Kalyani Martinelango during a Creators Panel on inclusion, diversity and equity.

  • She continued: “For Dow to be competitive, we need to be inclusive. And it’s not just about diversity of gender or race … but thought, too. We have to be passionate about inclusion because it’s the right thing to do.”

Change the world, live a good life: Panelists uniformly agreed that manufacturing careers offer significant benefits.

  • From making sustainable products to driving innovations to advancing decarbonization to earning great pay, industry careers offer a lot.
  • “Manufacturing is an awesome [career] option,” said Hulgan, who oversees two plants in the company’s Texas operations. “They’re in the top 10% of income earners. … This is the place to be if you like to have a nice lifestyle.”

Calling all women: Women shouldn’t hesitate to jump into manufacturing, the panelists advised.

  • Manufacturing “is a male-dominated industry, yes,” said Dow Texas Operations Apprentice Leader for the United States Natalia Muniz Rivera. “However, we’re changing that. … Don’t be shy. Get yourself up. This diversity is what makes the future better.”

Meanwhile, the teacher- and student-endorsed immersive experience continued to win accolades.

  • One student said, “They made this [in] an actual fun and interactive way so that people can get interested and into manufacturing.”
  • Students repeatedly confirmed that the experience changed their perceptions and increased their interest in manufacturing careers.

Activities galore: It wasn’t just Dow that brought the A-team and A-game, complete with a robotic dog and lizard, to excite students.

  • Chart Industries and Turner Industries brought team members to answer student questions and help them explore manufacturing in their own backyards.
  • Brazosport College helped students chart the next steps in their career processes.
  • And FactoryFix was on hand to provide pathways to career coaching and job opportunities.

What young people are saying: In surveys and testimonials, one point came across clearly to prospective manufacturers.

  • “It’s definitely a lucrative field to be a part of,” said Dow apprentice Chris Thurman.
  • Dow apprentice Anna Green reinforced the point, pointing out that she worked with a good many people who received two-year degrees at Brazosport College and “are making six figures a year.”

The last word: “Creators Wanted shows the variety of opportunities available,” Brazosport ISD Superintendent Dan Massey told The Facts Newspaper (subscription). “There is something to meet the needs of every single student. That’s what’s amazing about this event.”

What’s next? Creators Wanted is working on securing additional financial commitments to finalize a fall tour schedule and reach more students and communities. Email [email protected] if you are interested in supporting the campaign.

This article originally appeared in the National Association of Manufacturers’ morning newsletter for manufacturing executives, Input, on April 29, 2022.

“Find Your Future”: Creators Wanted Arrives in Freeport, TX

If you want to make a good living, help change the world for the better and have a good time doing it, modern manufacturing has a job for you. That was the message relayed to local high school students this Tuesday at the premier event of the Creators Wanted Tour Live’s seventh stop, in the Freeport, Texas, area.

Inspiring students: The CW tour, a joint project of the NAM and its workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute, aims to inspire, educate and empower tomorrow’s workforce.

  • For this week’s tour stop, presented by Dow, the immersive mobile experience came to Brazosport Independent School District’s Career and Technical Education Center in Clute, Texas.
  • The CTE Center, which is located near Dow’s largest manufacturing facility in the world, strives to prepare students for careers in a global economy by emphasizing career and technical education.
  • “We believe that the future of our workforce is highly dependent on the quality of public education,” said Brazosport Independent School District Superintendent Danny Massey.

Seeking difference makers: Dow Senior Vice President of Operations, Manufacturing and Engineering John Sampson highlighted the numerous opportunities available in modern manufacturing to do interesting, well-paid, life-changing work.

  • “I hope some of you—all of you—will be creators,” Sampson told students at the kickoff event. “At this point in your lives, you’re probably thinking about what you might want to major in. … I’m sure some of you might be interested in making some money, [too,] but you probably want to do more than that.”
  • “You probably want to make the world a better place, create something people want [and] have some fun. … I promise you this: We’ll always have a place for you on our team.”

 

Filling a void: Before the students rushed off to complete their “race to the future” in the mobile experience, MI President Carolyn Lee laid it out for them: Creators aren’t just wanted—they’re sorely needed to keep the world running and advancing.

  • “Without a steady stream of talented, bright young people … we can’t keep up the good work of continuously making our products,” Lee said. “[But] this is not a get-one-job-and-stay-there-for-40-years [situation]. This is a choose-your-own-adventure [career path] with continuing skills and challenges and opportunities and learning along the way.”
  • There are currently more than 850,000 open manufacturing jobs, Lee said, and by the end of this decade, modern manufacturing will require an additional 4 million workers.

Find your future: “We’re here because we know there’s something for everybody in manufacturing,” Sampson told event attendees in his closing remarks. “We hope you will find your future in modern manufacturing.”

  • Dow Vice President of Operations for the Gulf Coast Fernando Signorini echoed his colleague’s sentiment at a Creators Spotlight panel later on Tuesday. “If your desire is to go and get an education in engineering, you’re going to have a lot of opportunities,” he said.
  • “If your desire is to have a technical degree, [you’re] going to have a lot of opportunities. For a company like Dow to work, we need all the different … diversities in education and degrees. You see everything in there.”

The impact: More than 750 students are expected to tour the mobile experience this week at the CTE Center, and more than 25,000 students and career mentors in the Houston-metro area have already signed up online to learn more about modern manufacturing careers as a result of this latest tour stop.

This article originally appeared in the National Association of Manufacturers’ morning newsletter for manufacturing executives, Input on April 27, 2022.