INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – There are 137 manufacturing companies in Indian River County, producing personal aircraft, submarines and more for sale around the world. These companies have many jobs available for graduating high school seniors.

“We are launching our inaugural Manufacturing Boot Camp program to introduce high school seniors in Indian River County to potential careers in the manufacturing industry,” said Helene Caseltine, Economic Development Director, Indian River County Chamber of Commerce.

The Manufacturing Boot Camp is a partnership including the School District of Indian River County, CareerSource Research Coast, the Boys & Girls Club of Indian River County, Gifford Youth Achievement Center, the Treasure Coast Manufacturers Association, and local businesses.

The privately funded one-week training program provides graduating high school seniors an opportunity to explore careers in the manufacturing industry as an alternative to college. The free program runs May 20-24, but applications are due by mid-April. The boot camp runs every day for the week.

Each day, students will be transported to a manufacturer’s facility, where they will spend time on the shop floor, interact with employees, and learn about the skills needed. After the visits, a hands-on session will be held at the Career & Tech Center.

Students will meet with owners and plant managers at 11 manufacturing sites, learning about the skills needed for each industry. Students will visit Triton Submarines, Dragonfly Boatworks, Girard Equipment, Float-On Boat Trailers, M.A. Ford, Nylacarb, Aluma Tower, Fibealumn, United Juice, CVS distribution facility, and Piper Aircraft.

Several of these companies have immediate openings for the right students. Others will have openings over the next few months.

Nationwide, 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled over the next decade, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

Manufacturing jobs make a lot of sense, and often don’t require college. The average hourly wage for manufacturing jobs is $22.03, higher than the county’s average wage of $21.13/hour, and much higher than the average in retail, $13.03/hour, or hospitality, averaging $13/hour. The average pay for construction jobs is $19.85/hour.

Of jobs available locally without a college education, only healthcare, at an average of $30.35/hour, pays higher than manufacturing.

In addition, local manufacturing jobs normally include benefits like health insurance and vacation pay. Some cover training costs.

The Economic Development Office of the Chamber of Commerce and the school district have already completed tours of the manufacturing facilities for guidance and graduation counselors in all three county high schools and several middle schools. Those counselors will be responsible for encouraging and selecting potential student participants.

The program is based on a similar, successful program in St. Lucie County. In 2017, 21 high school seniors and five local companies participated. At the end of the week, half the students were offered jobs from the employers they met in the program.

The program is a response to an identified skills gap in the local workforce, and seeks to provide a pipeline of workers to successful businesses.

Students will also learn about corporate culture, communication skills, resume writing and interviewing, and financial literacy.

Any high school senior in Indian River County is eligible to apply. Students are referred to the program by their graduation or guidance counselor.

There is no charge to participate. Transportation to the manufacturing locations and lunch are provided each day.

The Manufacturing Boot Camp will take place May 20-24, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Students will be picked up and dropped off at the Career & Technical Education Center, 4680 28th Court, Gifford.

For more information, contact Helene Caseltine, Economic Development Director with the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce, (772) 567-3491 or directored@indianrivered.com.

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