A group of West Virginia University students is applying the skills they’re learning in the classroom to bring awareness to manufacturing programs and job opportunities in West Virginia.

Ten senior public relations students in the P.I. Reed School of Journalism are working with the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, along with public schools and community and technical colleges in Kanawha, Putnam, Cabell and Mason counties. The campaign aims to bring attention to the abundance of unfilled jobs in the manufacturing field and the lack of young professionals who possess the skills to fill these vacancies.

“Education and the development of workforce skills are top priorities for WVMA and our members,” said Karen Price, WVMA president. “Manufacturing companies are concerned with the lack of skilled workers to fill new and existing careers. By working with WVU, we hope to spread awareness of the opportunities that exist for West Virginia students.”

Almost half of the manufacturing workforce in West Virginia is expected to retire in the next five years, leaving few qualified candidates to fill their positions. While 36 percent of high school graduates will choose to work toward a four-year degree, the remaining 64 percent choose different paths. Some of these students may choose to seek employment through a two-year degree, and the high job outlook in manufacturing makes the field a strong one to consider.

The WVU students will travel to the Metro Valley region of West Virginia during the fall semester to conduct research, bring knowledge and awareness to the manufacturing industry, and work with WVMA to develop strategies that encourage students to consider a future in manufacturing after graduation.

While the campaign will produce more young adults who have the skills needed by manufacturing companies, it will also help produce qualified PR professionals. Throughout the semester, the WVU students will develop skill sets and gain experience that will make them appealing candidates for jobs after graduation.

“This campaign is giving the students the opportunity to gain valuable experience while educating West Virginia’s youth of opportunities in the manufacturing industry,” said Dr. Rita Colistra, assistant professor and instructor for the public relations campaign course. “The students are not only executing a campaign, but they’re also setting up the WVMA to employ more qualified workers which will help the state flourish economically in future years.”

Established in 1915, the West Virginia Manufacturers Association is the only statewide organization that exclusively serves the manufacturing community in West Virginia. The Association is comprised of more than 200 member companies that employ West Virginians throughout the state, representing both small and large companies.

For more information about programs and job opportunities in the manufacturing industry, contact Karen Price at 304-342-2123.



CONTACT: Erin Clark, West Virginia Manufacturers Association campaign project
304.767.8892, eclark8@mix.wvu.edu

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