It is manufacturing month and those in the industry hope a statewide tour this week can dispel manufacturing myths.
The statewide tour led by the governor begins today.
“Manufacturing, although it is the second largest industry in the state, suffers from an image problem,” says Scott Volk, Vice President of MetalQuest of Hebron, and chair of the Nebraska Manufacturing Advisory Council.
Manufacturing is the number two industry in the state, trailing only agriculture. The sector employs 97,000 Nebraskans and adds $13 billion to the state GDP.
Volk says manufacturing isn’t dirty and shouldn’t be seen as the fallback job for dumb kids.
“If you go into any manufacturing environment now you are going to see computers and robots, automation anywhere you turn. We need people with science skills, math skills, communication skills,” Volk says, adding at one point in a news conference hosted by Gov. Pete Ricketts that the sector needs “rock stars.”
Volk uses his own story to sell the sector. Volk graduated at the top of his class in Norfolk, but wanted to work with his hands, not go to a four-year college. High school advisors questioned his decision and tried to talk him out of it.
Volk urges students now to consider a career in manufacturing. He says it often takes a couple of years in addition to high school to obtain the skills necessary; skills which can be obtained at a much cheaper cost allowing the student to graduate with little debt. Some manufacturing jobs in Nebraska pay as much as $57,000 a year.
Gov. Pete Ricketts proclaimed October as “Manufacturing Month.”
Ricketts will travel to communities across the state to celebrate National Manufacturing Month in Nebraska.
On Tuesday, Ricketts will tour Nova-Tech and Chief Industries in Grand Island. Thursday, the governor is scheduled to tour Lukjan Great Plains in Sidney, then B & C Steel in Gering. The governor on Friday tours Perrin Manufacturing in Alliance, Becton Dickinson in Holdrege, Royal Engineered Composites in Minden, and wraps up with Distefano in Omaha.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]