What goes on in a manufacturing plant may be a mystery to anyone who has never been inside. How do you interest
young people in manufacturing careers if they know little to nothing about them?

One thing is certain: Hundreds of manufacturing jobs are going unfilled in Northeast Wisconsin and employers need to be more creative to attract workers. With this in mind, schools, companies and motivated people around Northeast Wisconsin have launched programs to light a spark of interest in manufacturing among youth — and the paradigm is shifting.

Among such programs flaring the enthusiasm for manufacturing is Project G.R.I.L.L. This program (which stands for Growing Readiness in Learning and Leading) places high school students with large manufacturing companies in Sheboygan County to build a customized barbecue grill from the ground up.

“We partner with students from local high schools with manufacturers to give the students a chance to be a part of — and see the inside of — local manufacturing companies so they get a better idea of what is going on in the manufacturing world,” says Keith Anderson, chair of Project G.R.I.L.L.

Project G.R.I.L.L. was one of several programs to earn recognition from the NEW Manufacturing Alliance as part of its annual Manufacturing All-Stars program, which for the past four years has shined a spotlight on schools, companies and individuals exemplifying efforts that stir interest in manufacturing careers among youth in
the region. It received the Community Partnership Award for its work giving students hands-on technical skills
including design, production and distribution of a project they build.

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