There are jobs in Bucyrus and Crawford County. That was one of many themes during the WAGE In-Service Oct. 23.
The Bucyrus Secondary School served as the pilot for the newly formed WAGE, Workforce Awareness for Graduates and Educators, program. Teachers from the Secondary School spent the day touring manufacturing businesses in Bucyrus and then debriefing with the leadership teams from each of the businesses visited during the tours.
"I wasn't sure what to expect as I had never been in any of the buildings," Bucyrus teacher Aaron Eckert said. "I could not believe how many jobs there were in Bucyrus at that exact moment."
The overall goal of the WAGE program is to raise awareness for, and get students interested in, careers in manufacturing. The initial step of the WAGE program is to expose secondary level school educators and administrators to the career opportunities and needs of local manufacturing.
"The opportunity to collaborate and interact with the teachers both at our places of work and at BHS for the afternoon session was enlightening," I-B Tech Vice President Steve Crall said. "I believe that the tours did increase awareness of the manufacturing opportunities available."
In addition to learning about the local manufacturing opportunities available, Bucyrus educators also learned the skill sets necessary for future workers to be successful. Eckert quickly identified the two biggest soft skills needed in manufacturing employees.
"There are plenty of jobs in Crawford County if people are willing to show up on time and pass a drug test," Eckert said.
Along with tours, the day included afternoon breakout sessions at Bucyrus High School. Representatives from the manufacturers and the teachers spent time debriefing from the morning's activities.
"Based on several teachers' comments we can raise student awareness of career opportunities by taking them (students) on the plant tours," Crall said. "Also, the recognition by students of the employable skill requirements, especially 'soft skills', would be especially impactful."
The next step in the WAGE program is initiating the student tours of the manufacturers. These tours are scheduled to take place February 12, with a pre-tour classroom visit scheduled for February 10 and post-tour debriefing with students February 17.
"We are excited to take the next step in this program," Bucyrus Superintendent Kevin Kimmel said. "This is a vitally important program for our students because they will be given the opportunity to meet and interact with manufacturing professionals and learn the skills they need to develop to successful in life."
The WAGE program was developed by the Crawford: 20/20 Vision Business Success and Job Availability action team. American Electric Power is providing partial funding for the program.