Companies in the manufacturing industry are finding it harder and harder to find skilled workers. One factor contributing to this problem is the amount of knowledge that is being lost as baby boomers reach retirement age. According to AARP, 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every single day, and this is expected to continue into the 2030s. Another contributing factor is the lack of interest that the younger generation has shown towards manufacturing. Kids just aren’t getting enough exposure to all of the career opportunities that are available in manufacturing. The Rockford Business Community and the Rockford Public Schools are working together to change this trend.
The Rockford Public Schools redesigned the high school experience to help ensure that graduating students are better prepared for either college or the workforce. Academies are small learning communities that provide real-world experiences with local business and professionals, linking schoolwork and the workplace. Alignment Rockford is a public school support organization. The mission is to align community resources in support of public school strategies to raise student achievement, improve the health and happiness of the children, and advance the economic and social well-being of the community. Alignment Rockford envisions all students graduating from high school with marketable employment skills and enrolling in post-secondary education and training. Rj Link International has joined other local businesses as active members of the Academy Support Team. The company actively participates by offering tours and job shadowing opportunities to students. Rj Link’s Engineering/Quality Manager, John Oller, also participates in an Academy Expo, in addition to Mock Interviews with seniors to help give them practice on how to interview. He, and other employees at Rj Link, are also is involved with Career Coaching helping to answer questions that students might have about careers in manufacturing.
The community effort that is happening in Rockford is becoming a model for other communities and school districts. Rj Link International understands how important it is to be a part of this movement, and what it means for the future of the younger generations, as well as business owners in all industries.
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