Diana Peters

Executive Director

Symbol Training Institute

In terms of the education that they need, it’s basic skills. Any company they’re going to be hired at, they’re going to train them anyway. But they need somebody who they can relate to, who they can shoptalk with, and somebody who understands the basic operations of the machines, of operating it, even touching a little bit on even programming the machines. They don’t have to know how to program it, but they have to have a basic understanding of it.

We go out to high schools all the time. We go and talk to them. We definitely encourage manufacturing companies to open their doors up and have younger kids — high school, even junior high children — come in and tour the facility. They’ll see it’s not their great-grandfather’s shop. It’s not dark, dirty and dingy anymore. These shops are clean. They’re beautiful. We’ve gone to some shops locally in Chicago that even have flower pots on the aisles, I mean, to the point where they’re trying to change this image.

We really need to get young kids to realize that this is a great career. This can supply them with the ability to have a great house, have that SUV that they want. They’re watching these reality TV shows; they want to be like all these celebrities. But they need to realize that manufacturing can get them there.