But this time it's not because companies are moving overseas. Instead manufacturers are trying to spark the interest of our area youth.
Bob Trojan, President of Rockford Linear Actuation, Inc. and Steve Yagle, President of Reliable Machine Company worry about who will keep their companies in business. Both are having a hard time finding qualified workers.
Bob Trojan says, “There is not enough young folk coming into manufacturing world. But this is a good career and you can earn good money. We are not a dying industry."
The average age in manufacturing is 50. So the concern is who will replace workers when they are ready to retire. Research is showing that over the next five years area companies will have a hard time finding machinists, fabricators and c-n-c operators.
Steve Yagle states, "We used to have an average of 45 people entering the Tool and Die apprenticeship programs at Rock Valley College. That number now is 5. So it's a huge shortage predicted in the future."
Both hope that district curriculum can change. Both of these two company Presidents want high schools, manufacturers and Rock Valley College to think outside the box. The two owners say that is the only way to bring in new faces.
Yagle tells 23 News, "Something with a different twist not a two year degree. We can have something that will break down the certification that's 3 months, 6 months or 1 year. A fast paced changing program to meet manufacturers needs."
For the past 20 years vocational training has been limited and companies couldn't afford internal training. So this is an idea that may have been ignored in the past but is now a necessity. About 100 people from principals to top administration officials in the Rockford Public School District will tour 28 area manufacturing companies Wednesday.