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Our Biggest Challenge: Engaging Young People

For Immediate Release 

Our Biggest Challenge: Engaging Young People

Burke Companies Looking for Ways to Reach New Workers

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. (April 4, 2013) – If you live in Burke County you hear it often from students, “When I graduate I’m moving because there are no jobs here.” If you work in the manufacturing field you hear it often from employers, “We don’t have any young people coming into manufacturing.” Local companies will tell you that one of their biggest challenges is finding employees. Those young people who are leaving the County – they could be the answer.


During the week of April 8-12 Burke Development, Inc. will participate in several events to educate students, their parents – and the counselors who help guide their school and career decisions – about the opportunities that are available in Burke County for young people who are interested in a production related career. On April 10 and 11, the economic development organization will take both high school and middle school guidance counselors on tours of various manufacturing facilities. Each group of counselors will tour four companies to learn about careers in furniture, machining, textiles and advanced manufacturing. Participating companies include: Leviton, EJ Victor, Opportunity Threads, Toner Machining, Geiger, Parker Industries, Valdese Weavers and DeFeet. BDI has also launched a webpage where students can learn more about production occupations, www.burkedevinc.com/OurHeritageYourFuture. “This is something I’m extremely passionate about because I want to see more young people staying here in Burke County to develop a career and raise a family,” said BDI Project Manager Sara Chester. “We need to help serve the needs of our existing industries and they need young people walking through the doors to fill out applications. Many of them worry that when their current workforce retires there won’t be anyone to fill their shoes. This is happening all over the country and we have an opportunity to do something about it.” According to a recent report from the Manufacturing Institute, 2.7 million manufacturing employees are 55 years of age or older and likely to leave the labor force over the next 10 years. This will create additional and significant demand for a technically trained workforce. However, only 35% of Americans say they would encourage their children to pursue a career in manufacturing. For a student graduating high school in Burke County the manufacturing field can be a good opportunity. Most of these companies offer great benefits and opportunities for advancement. There are also certain careers that have good pay. For example, the average entry level salary for a machinist in Burke County in 2012 was $29,016. For two prominent occupations in the furniture field, upholsterers and cutters/trimmers, the average hourly experienced wage in 2012 was $20.02 and $19.45 respectively. “I’ve been in furniture companies where upholsterers are working based on production and are making $75,000 to $90,000 a year,” added Chester. “Through events like the ones we’re doing next week we hope to show high school students, parents and guidance counselors that there are jobs to be had in the production field and they are good opportunities. Furthermore, they will continue to be a better opportunity over the next decade as the baby boomers retire.” BDI, in partnership with Burke County Public Schools, is planning for student tours in the fall where high school students have the opportunity to visit various manufacturing facilities. If you are interested in pursuing a career in manufacturing or a production related occupation, visit www.burkedevinc.com/OurHeritageYourFuture for information, stats and videos about these careers. If you are a company that is interested in working with high school students or participating in these tours please contact Sara Chester at 828.448.3821. About Burke Development, Inc. Burke Development, Inc. (BDI) is a nonprofit organization supported by private and public funding that is charged with accelerating economic growth in Burke County. BDI works with industry leaders, site selection consultants, government agencies and other entities to facilitate expansion strategies for existing businesses and recruit target industries to Burke County. For more information about BDI visit www.BurkeDevInc.com.


Contact: Sara Chester 828.674.3141

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