High school students learn through real world manufacturing through a unique collaboration of schools, a manufacturing alliance, and a technical college.
Bay Link Manufacturing is a collaborative of Green Bay West High School, the Green Bay School District, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, the N.E.W. Manufacturing Alliance and about 12 to 15 high school juniors and seniors leaning toward careers in manufacturing.
Those students will fill real-world manufacturing orders for customers, such as Lindquist Machine and others.
“They are going to run a little business in here,” said Mark Kaiser, president and CEO of Lindquist Machine during Bay Link’s announcement at the high school. “They’re going to have to do cost-estimating, they are going to have to deal with meeting schedules, they are going to have to deal with quality problems, they are going to have to figure out how to make a customer that’s not really happy, happy.”
Manufacturing makes up 23 percent of Northeastern Wisconsin’s economy, and the alliance’s 2014 Manufacturing Vitality Index found that 60 percent of employers report it difficult to find qualified workers. The demographics will continue to work against them. For the first time in 60 years, workers facing retirement outnumber teens entering the workforce.
The alliance was founded in 2006 to foster collaboration between manufacturers and educators to promote manufacturing and develop a future workforce. Bay Link is one of a handful of programs that takes such a collaboration to this level. A similar program is available at Algoma High School.
Green Bay schools and NWTC will provide $201,000 of the $396,400 need to launch the project, and they are seeking additional support, especially from regional businesses.
Students from all four of Green Bay’s public high schools are eligible for Bay Link. They can apply and will undergo an interview process similar to applying for a job, said Andy Belongia, technology and engineering instructor at West. They have to commit three hours a day to the company, which means they’ll need to be up on their other courses as well.
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