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Making a Difference: Creators Wanted Visits Charlotte

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Creators Wanted is having a moment. In Charlotte, North Carolina, the fourth stop of the mobile experience’s five-city expedition around the U.S., the Creators Wanted Tour Live continued to generate big excitement about manufacturing and the career opportunities the industry offers.

“I’m only 22 and I bought a house, a boat and a dirt bike,” said Ketchie Inc. Lathe Department Lead Machinist Zach Whitley, during a nationally aired live Creators Wanted Spotlight conversation with students from East Mecklenburg and Hopewell high schools. “Manufacturing is what has enabled me to have this lifestyle.”

Makers needed—and rewarded: The spotlight event was part of the four-day stay of the mobile experience at Central Piedmont Community College presented by Trane Technologies. The tour, a project of the NAM and its workforce development partner, The Manufacturing Institute, seeks to inspire, educate and empower the next generation of manufacturers—and recruit at least 600,000 new workers to address the manufacturing talent shortage, which is estimated to leave more than 2.1 million jobs unfilled by 2030, according to Deloitte and the MI.

Its message seems to be getting out.

  • “I had never heard of manufacturing before” today, Anson High School sophomore Janita Willoughby told Charlotte Channel 9 WSOC-TV reporter Susanna Black. But as it turns out, in a manufacturing career “you’re making a lot of money and you’re doing stuff you like, so that’s a good thing,” she said.

Goings-on galore: In addition to the spotlight event, the student- and job seeker-focused happenings in Charlotte were many and varied. They included:

  • A kick-off event featuring talks from speakers including North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Creators Wanted Legacy Sponsor Trane Technologies’ Mike Lamach, NAM Board Chair and Trane’s executive chair, Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston; Community College Chief Academic Officer Heather Hill; MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee; and NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons
  • A manufacturing fair with local manufacturers and education partners, highlighting local career opportunities and pathway programs, certifications and degrees for those interested in manufacturing
  • Tours by local high school students of the escape room-like Creators Wanted experience
  • Q&A sessions in which students had the opportunity to discuss the manufacturing industry and its jobs with real manufacturers

“Something that excites you”: “There’s a common misconception that manufacturing is boring,” Lamach told an audience of students at the Charlotte kick-off event. “What I love about this Creators Wanted tour is how it pulls you [toward] the many different possibilities in manufacturing. There are many different kinds of opportunities to learn and grow, and all kinds of ways to make a difference. I hope you’ll find something that excites you.”

  • The Charlotte stop hosted more than 450 students from West Mecklenburg High School, Anson High School, South & West Stanley High Schools, Floyd Johnson Technology Center, East Mecklenburg High School, Hopewell High School, Myers Park High School, Rowan-Salisbury High School, Harding University High School, the Epiphany School of Charlotte and CPCC, generating approximately 68,000 email signups.

Highlights: Video and photos show some of the fun and learning that took place last week.

A Trane Technologies team member talks to student attendees at a Creators Wanted event.

Local high school students and teachers proudly display their escape room times.

The race to the gateway to the future was on in Honda’s “Sum of All Parts” challenge, where these students made the correct choice as to what product this team of Honda associates is creating.

Students had fun working with DJ Enferno to make their own Creators Wanted music anthems, putting more of the creativity central to manufacturing to work.

The tour in Charlotte brought manufacturing’s promise to students with differing abilities. Teachers reacted positively to the impact of the experience.

Lamach, whose leadership on Creators Wanted helped get the campaign off the ground, took the stage to emphasize what the tour is all about: students.

The response: Creators Wanted earned notice from some well-known names, both in North Carolina and elsewhere.

Media mentions: In addition to WSOC-TV, broadcast and online news outlets including the Charlotte Business Journal, WCCB Charlotte and Business North Carolina also covered the Creators Wanted Charlotte stop.

The final say: “You can’t create the future unless you’re engaging the future,” said Chrys Kefalas, chief strategist of the tour and vice president of brand strategy at the NAM. “Students came to us not thinking about manufacturing as a career and left aspiring to careers in the industry. Resumes were handed to manufacturers. We’re creating lasting memories that won’t just result in new workers but [will] also change lives.”

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