Thursday, April 24 2014 3:47 PM EDT2014-04-24 19:47:30 GMT
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A big push is under way to get high school students interested in manufacturing. Counselors from school districts in Henry County spent time Friday touring local companies to learn the importance of young people considering the field.
"I love it. I wouldn't do anything else," said Kevin Febrey.
Febrey is no stranger to manufacturing.
"Started working in a machine shop when I was 16, and I've been in the trade ever since," said Febrey.
Now he's the president of Napoleon Machine. On Friday, he was one of several people who met with a group of high school counselors trying to spread the word about the need for skilled workers.
"Our workforce is aging," said Febrey. "We have to have some younger blood coming into the industry."
Local manufacturing companies are preparing for many of their skilled workers to retire over the next few years. They want to make sure there are people available who can take their place.
"There are opportunities for these people to come in, get good jobs, and really rise up the ranks," said Robert McColley, executive director of Henry County Community Improvement Corporation.
McColley says getting more young people interested in this type of work is vital.
"There are a number of career opportunities that are available right here in Henry County, and that's another part of what we're doing today: We're keeping jobs local," said McColley.
Leaders hope counselors take what they learn and use it to guide students who may not want to pursue a typical four-year degree.
"It's extremely critical for the future of manufacturing, and for these kids who may not know what manufacturing is about, that there's really good careers to be had," said Febrey.