Waukesha Co. students get close look at careers in manufacturing & skilled trades

Posted at 12:54 PM, Oct 12, 2017

Almost 1,000 high school students had the opportunity to get hands-on experience in trade careers like manufacturing, engineering and construction on Thursday morning. 

The activities were part of the MADE Career Pathways Expo at Waukesha County Technical College. It was hosted by the Waukesha County Business Alliance. 

Organizers said it's important to reinvest in the skilled trades, with more than 1,800 manufacturing jobs currently available in Waukesha County. 

"It's an opportunity for us to showcase the great jobs that are available," said Suzanne Kelley, President & CEO of the Waukesha County Business Alliance. 

The expo allowed students the chance to try operating robots, welding simulators, and painting simulators. 

"If you see it, you touch it, you feel it, you have a better understanding of what the industry is all about," Kelley said. 

There's also increased interest in robotics and automation, with Foxconn's high-tech plant in Mount Pleasant expected to open in 2020. 

"There's a lot of excitement with Foxconn coming in, which is going to create even more opportunities," said Mike Shiels, Dean of Applied Technologies at WCTC.  

Students who attended the expo came away impressed. 

"I'd like to be an electrician," said Cody Heck, a senior at Waukesha West High School. "Electricity is in pretty much every aspect of our daily lives." 

"Right now, I'm looking into either welding or manufacturing," said Julia Sajdowitz, a senior at Arrowhead High School. "It's cool to talk to businesses in the area, because I'm planning on just going to a tech school for now." 

The Waukesha County Business Alliance is a county-wide chamber of commerce with more than 1,200 member companies employing more than 75-thousand workers.