GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Manufacturers throughout West Michigan are hosting open houses and student tours in the month of October to showcase their career options.

The tours are a part of Manufacturing Week 2019, and even though it was from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, events will span the month of October. More than 100 manufacturers are expected to host over 1,000 students during this year's event.

According to Talent 2025's 2019 West Michigan Talent Assessment and Outlook, manufacturing is the largest industry in West Michigan, accounting for more than 23% of all jobs in the region. Since 2009, manufacturing has added more than 45,000 jobs — a growth rate of 39.5%.

However, manufacturing is still facing a skills gap. There are older employees on the brink of retirement and fewer younger people entering the skilled trades, and many companies are expected to struggle to fill job openings.

Manufacturing Week is part of the nationwide Manufacturing Day movement, which was created to dispel outdated images of the industry and to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.

“My freshmen students are able to experience and observe modern technology and equipment at Dicastal – one of the world's cleanest foundry environments, which is only 20 miles from their homes,” said J. Mercer, a teacher with Tri-County Area Schools. “Dicastal could have built their beautiful plant anywhere in the world, and they chose Montcalm County. Manufacturing Week shows students that they have abundant opportunities in their own backyard.

To learn more about how to get involved in Manufacturing Week in West Michigan, contact dmcoordinator@westmiworks.org. Visit mfgday.com to find an event near you.

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