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Manufacturing careers offer solid choice for graduates

Union County Public Schools guidance counselors and career development coordinators (CDC) tour Vanguard Pai Lung. Pictured, at left, is Vice President of Operations Patrick Moody, who led the tour of his facility.

A handful of Union County Public Schools guidance counselors and career development coordinators (CDC) spent Thursday touring local manufacturers in an attempt to be better informed and better able to advise students about manufacturing jobs in Union County.

The tours served as a kickoff to Manufacturing Awareness Week, which begins Sept. 28. There will be open house events at various local manufacturers on Sept. 29 and Sept. 30, and a Manufacturing Awareness Showcase at South Piedmont Community College on Oct. 1.

Students also have the opportunity to win $2,500 that will be used toward STEM technology equipment. Students win points for various levels of participation during the week. The winner will be based on who has the most points of participation.

Robert Filter, UCPS director of Career and Technical Education (CTE), said about 25 UCPS CDCs and counselors attended Thursday’s kick-off tours, which were held at two manufacturing companies in Union County: Greiner Bio-One and Vanguard Pai Lung.

Greiner Bio-One offers job opportunities in the fields of biotechnology, diagnostics, medical devices and in vitro diagnostics. Vanguard Pai Lung has manufactured circular knitting machines for nearly 100 years.

During the tour at Vanguard Pai Lung, Vice President of Operations Patrick Moody said his company looks for graduates with problem-solving skills, good communication skills, and the ability to work well with coworkers.

Filter said the tours not only gave educators information about what manufacturers are looking for in prospective employees, but it also helped them have a better understanding of manufacturing in Union County. “Then they can present those opportunities that are available to students.”

Allen Plyler, CTE Industry Coordinator with UCPS, said the counselors and CDCs will also be able to discuss how manufacturing has changed over the past 15 or 20 years.

“These are technology-driven jobs,” Plyler said. “They need to have technology skills to run the machines. I think it’s good for educators to see this so they can pass it on to parents and students.”

Valerie Simmeth, a CDC from Cuthbertson High School, said the event will help educators get excited about the upcoming manufacturing week.

“This will also help those individuals in the schools, those who have direct contact with students, to be aware of what opportunities there are in Union County and what skills are required,” Simmeth said.

Taletha Reyes, a guidance counselor at Union County Early College, said having first-hand knowledge of what manufacturing opportunities are available in Union County are especially good for those students who do not want to go to college.

“Students like to know what’s available locally that they can get involved in,” Reyes said. “This is really helpful, plus actually walking around, we can go back and better educate our students. It’s very helpful.”

Angela White, a marketing manager with Vanguard Pai Lung, said there are great careers available in manufacturing in Union County.

“We’re a small, family operated company, but we do invest in our employees,” White said. “Many of them have been here most of their lives.”

For more information about Manufacturing Awareness Week, contact Filter at (704) 296-6365 or go to the Make It In Union County website.

Written by: Deb Bledsoe - UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Sep 25, 2015 by Deb Bledsoe

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