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More booths, expanded reach for ninth annual Manufacturing Career Expo


By Thomas J. McKillen

Managing Editor

When the ninth annual Manufacturing and Career Expo is held this week, it will feature a record number of booths and reach out to high school and middle school students across the suburban Milwaukee area.

The expo will be held at the Washington County Fair Park from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 25 and 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 26. It is organized by the Germantown, Menomonee Falls, and Sussex chambers of commerce.

Lynn Grgich, executive director of the Germantown Area Chamber of Commerce, noted the event will have 32 booths featuring 23 manufacturers and seven post-secondary options. Among the businesses and other organizations at the event will be the Apprenticeship Bureau; the Tool, Die, and Machining Association of WI; the US Army; GPS and ARCpoint Labs of Milwaukee North. Manufacturers include: GKN Sinter Metals; MGS Mfg. Group; Sussex IM; Entrust; GSC; Wacker Neuson; Trace-A-Matic; Reich Tool & Design; Magnetek; Harley Davidson Motor Company; J.W. Speaker Corporation; Gehl Foods; Arandell; Server Products; Signicast; Hampel; Allen Edmonds; Waukesha Metal Products; Quad Graphics; Tailored Label Products; Alto-Shaam; Broan; and MacLean-Fogg.

“The planning committee works each year to not only bring back past manufacturer exhibitors, but also bring in new vendors that may spotlight different types of products and services and how they are made,” Grgich said. “There will be several exhibitors participating for the first time and it will be exciting for all of us to see their displays.”

The planning committee for the event is comprised of 15 members and includes representatives from each of the three chambers; the Germantown, Menomonee Falls, and Hamilton school districts, manufacturing companies and business representatives who support the manufacturing industry. Grgich explained that the goal of the expo is to make students aware of careers in manufacturing so there is a new workforce that can succeed the current generation.

“The manufacturing industry will continue to lose workforce due to retirement of the existing experienced workforce. Not all those jobs will need filling as automation and technology continues to advance,” Grgich said. “However new opportunities will be created in their place. Students will need to have continued education beyond high school, but there will be more options for fulfilling those requirements.”

She further explained that part of the presentation involves describing the evolution of manufacturing from how it was performed in the past to a high-tech and automated environment for today’s workplace.

“The old perception of manufacturing is slowly evolving. As the generation that lived it retires, the next generation that saw their parents work in those environments are influencing their children’s career choices,” Grgich said. “Marketing, the economy, and manufacturers themselves have all been working to make that attitude change come about. Awareness building not only the student, but parents as well.”

This year’s event is expected to draw approximately 750 students from Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. While the event focused primarily on the three school districts served by the Germantown, Menomonee Falls chambers during the first few years of the expo, moving to the Fair Park allowed its reach to expand.

“This event did start with the communities associated with the partnering chambers. As we grew and eventually moved to the exhibit hall at Washington County Fair Park, we found we could bring in many more students as well,” Grgich said. “As long as the manufacturers were going to go through all the work of their displays, the more students that could see it, the better.”

This year’s expo will host students from Kettle Moraine High School, Menomonee HS QUEST Program, Brown Deer High School, Greenfield High School, Wisconsin Lutheran High School, Oconomowoc High School, Hartford Union High School, Barack Obama SCTE High School, Nova Tech, Kewaskum High School, West Bend high schools, Cedarburg High School, Brookfield Central, Milwaukee Lutheran High School and Menomonee Falls North Middle School and Templeton (Hamilton district)  Middle School.

In addition, the organizers invite students, parents and educators to attend on an individual basis to see what the manufacturers at the event have to offer.

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