To spread awareness about local industrial career opportunities and strengthen ties between the education and manufacturing communities, Lake Norman Economic Development (LNED) recently coordinated a multi-stop tour for educators charged with preparing students for the future.

According to LNED Economic Development Coordinator Haley Frazier, who partnered with agency Executive Director Ryan McDaniels to organize the event, the day-long tour in early February was designed to provide school administrators and career training teachers a close-up look at modern manufacturing operations and the multitude of career paths industries offer for the future workforce.

The event was the first tour in a program LNED hopes will expand to include more chances for local industrial and education collaboration. It attracted administrators from Bradley Middle School and Blythe Elementary, several staff members from Hopewell High School and representatives from other Career and Technical Education programs provided by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The goal, Frazier said, was to give educators the chance to meet manufacturers, see the facilities, learn about the types of jobs local companies offer and the skill set young people will need to prepare for specific careers. The presentations also gave educators a preview of the compensation and benefits affiliated with various jobs to share with their students..

Companies participating in the first LNED educators tour included Daetwyler, Mitutoyo, Southwire and Saertex. In addition to the site visits and first-hand information sessions with company officials, the day’s activities also included a lunchtime presentation about regional job and employee trends from Leigh Coble, a representative of the coalition of Lake Norman-area human resources professionals.

The tour came on the heels of a presentation at the Huntersville Town Board’s annual budget and planning retreat when McDaniels reported local industries are searching for workers. In his presentation – which highlighted the need to make students more aware of the vast career opportunities available in modern manufacturing operations –  McDaniels said the latest figures compiled by LNED indicate 37 companies in the greater Lake Norman are currently looking to fill more than 1,000 job openings.

McDaniels added that an available and skilled workforce plays a vital role in company decisions about a manufacturing facility site. He said the LNED, which works to recruit business and industry to north Mecklenburg, views a strong partnership between education and industrial sectors as vital for keeping students and CTE educators aware of the careers available in trade and industrial fields.

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