The owner of a manufacturer in the southwest part of South Dakota is trying to close the gap between a worker shortage and a skilled workforce by showing middle school students what it's like to work in his industry.
Chad Ulvestad, owner of Specialized Machine in the city of Tea, participated in a video contest last year that sends young teenagers to a nearby manufacturer to interview staff, learn about the business and make a video about the work being done, the Argus Leader reported .
The South Dakota "Dream It Do It" contest is part of the Manufacturing Institute's nationwide effort to introduce children to manufacturing careers before they reach high school. South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology Solutions, a federally- and state-funded group established to support the industry, organizes the state's contest.
Students at 20 middle schools will participate this fall and winter in the contest. Each school is matched with a host company, which invites the students to film with a GoPro and to answer the question, "What's so cool about manufacturing?"
Working with middle schools allows companies to address some of the misperceptions at a younger age, said Sara Byre, project coordinator for the contest.
"People still have visions of the automotive factories, with sparks flying everywhere and poorly lit," Ulvestad said. "That's not what manufacturing is anymore."