Lee’s Summit Students Gain First-Hand Experience in Manufacturing

Gail BryantWorkforce

On Friday, students from Lee’s Summit North High School, Summit Christian Academy and Saint Michaels the Archangel Catholic High School were offered a unique chance to learn about the career opportunities available in modern manufacturing. Students toured Polytainers and ULTRAX Aerospace as part of National Manufacturing Day.

National Manufacturing Day began as a way to educate young people about the high-paying, in-demand opportunities available in modern manufacturing. A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report predicts a shortage of nearly 3.4 million skilled technical workers by 2022 due in part to the emphasis on 4-year degrees and an aging workforce. National Manufacturing Day is supported by thousands of manufacturers nationwide to change students’ and parents’ perceptions about modern manufacturing by showcasing the evolving technology and career opportunities.

Glenn Watson is the Human Resources Business Partner at Polytainers. He said the biggest misconception about manufacturing is the belief that there is not a wide range of opportunity available in the field.

“Manufacturing companies have a wide variety of job and career paths,” said Watson. “Polytainers is committed to providing a work environment in which creativity, job enrichment and diversity are celebrated and rewarded through compensation, rewards & recognition programs and personal development opportunities.”

Michael Hilbert is the Coordinator for the Lee’s Summit R-7 Jobs for America’s Graduates program (JAG). JAG is a voluntary in-school program that prepares students to succeed in the workforce. Hilbert accompanied his group to Polytainers, where they learned about molding, labeling and quality control. Hilbert said events like National Manufacturing Day give students a real-world glimpse of the opportunities available to them in the Lee’s Summit community.

“The students loved the experience. They enjoyed seeing the process in action, while learning about the career opportunity that exists at Polytainers and other manufacturing facilities,” Hilbert said. “A day like this will go a long way to helping them to focus their career choices and provide them with a sense that they are more prepared to succeed than they might expect.” 

ULTRAX Aerospace creates mission critical maintenance and sustainment technologies for aircraft and fleets. It hosted a group from Summit Christian Academy and Saint Michael’s the Archangel Catholic High School. ULTRAX President Troy Prewitt said the event gives him the chance to inspire and interact with future leaders.

“We look forward to National Manufacturing Day every year. The students are smart, talented, and eager to learn. And it gives ULTRAX a terrific opportunity to demonstrate the kind of quality & craftsmanship that could attract tomorrow’s workforce to careers in manufacturing and technology,” said Prewitt.

The Lee’s Summit Chamber and Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council assisted with coordinating the event. LSEDC Director of Business Development Tina Chace said it is important for students and parents to learn the reality of modern manufacturing.

“What many people don’t realize is that manufacturing today is not what it was 50, or even 20, years ago,” said Chace. “Employers are now looking for technologically-capable candidates to innovate, design and operate cutting-edge machinery.”

Hilbert said he hopes the experience will open students’ minds to the possibilities of what their future career may look like.

“My hope is that our students feel a sense of direction, excitement and confidence about their future job possibilities,” said Hilbert.