NEW BREMEN — Teachers in the New Bremen Local School District spent their teacher in-service touring manufacturing plants and learning of local opportunities to help educate students on possible career paths at a business engagement session Monday afternoon.
The event, which was sponsored by the New Bremen Business Advisory Council, allowed educators to learn about opportunities available to students in New Bremen.
“The biggest message we’re trying to provide here is knowledge,” New Bremen Economic Development Director Angela Hamberg told The Evening Leader. “Knowledge is power, and we want our educators to know about the opportunities here.”
The idea for the business engagement event spurred from conversations with Superintendent Howard Overman.
“We formed the Business Advisory Council in the spring, and this all started from conversations that (Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce Director) Scott Frey and I had with Howard Overman about a need for teacher awareness,” Hamberg said.
Teachers began the afternoon with a presentation from Crown Equipment Corporation Personnel Director Pete Falk, in which he explained opportunities available in New Bremen at Crown Equipment Corporation.
Falk noted the company considers teachers a partner in the process of bringing interested students into manufacturing.
“Crown is looking at you, as educators in the community, as a real partner for us, and we’re hopeful today to give you an idea of what we do, what we’re all about here, the type of talent we’re looking for and the skill sets we’re looking for,” Falk told a crowd of teachers gathered at Lock One Theater.
“We recognize that you all spend a good part of your days with those students, so we look at you as partners in this process.”
In the next 10 years, approximately 25 percent of the workforce Crown Equipment Corporation will reach retirement age, signaling a need for young, skilled workers.
“This is something that’s frightening for us as a workforce,” he said. “The fact that we have an ageing workforce and roughly one in four of our employees are going to reach retirement age in the next 10 years ... We recognize that we’ve got some significant needs in this area. We need a lot of help.”
Area manufacturers are challenged with finding enough skilled workers.
“The biggest challenge to fill any position is a skills gap,” Falk said.
“For example, some of our skilled manufacturing opportunities, it’s very difficult to find the number of skilled applicants — whether it’s a welder, a machine maintenance person, a CNC machinist — it’s very difficult. We’re not unique in that way. I speak to many other employers in the area, and we’re all trying to sort through that. We’ve had positions go unfilled for extended periods of time for that reason.”
After the presentation, educators split into groups to tour several area manufacturing plants.
“We’re keeping it to around 15 people per group, and everyone will tour two plants at Crown and then two plants at Bunker Hill Industrial Park,” Hamberg said, noting teachers toured New Bremen Machine & Tool and Safeway Packaging while at Bunker Hill Industrial Park.
Following the tours, educators had more time to have questions answered and heard remarks from Overman, Frey and Hamberg.