Bedford County Students Learn About Manufacturing Career Opportunities

BEDFORD, PA – Nearly 250 high school students attended Bedford County‘s Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) event on Oct. 1, hosted by Bedford Reinforced Plastics.

MFG Day is a nationwide initiative developed by the Manufacturing Institute (MI) of Washington, DC to promote manufacturing to students, parents and educators.

In Bedford County, local manufacturers joined Bedford Reinforced Plastics to talk with students about career paths and the importance of manufacturing to the Bedford County economy.

students arrive at bedford reinforced plastics

“We believe it is important to teach our youth that they have wonderful career opportunities with significant global manufacturing leaders right here in Bedford County,” said Brian Pachtman, chair of the board for the Bedford County Development Association. BCDA worked with Bedford Reinforced Plastics and the Bedford County Technical Center (BCTC) to organize the event.

“These are stable paying jobs with benefits and opportunities for advancement. We hope that events like this will inspire, educate and empower the next generation of manufacturing employees in Bedford County.”

Bedford Reinforced Plastics, a family-owned businesses founded in 1974, is one of the top three major pultrusion companies in North America. As a manufacturer of structural and custom FRP composite products, it services a variety of different global markets.

“Dana Morris, our safety supervisor and training coordinator; Brent Smith, our process improvement manager; and Eric Kidd, our marketing director, put together a great program that used videos to educate visiting students about what we do and what we have to offer,” said Tom Wright, business development director for Bedford Reinforced Plastics. “Students were able to tour our fabrication facility, where we highlighted our CNC equipment, robotic equipment, and different steps throughout the manufacturing process.”

Student Touring Bedford Reinforced Plastics Facility

Like most businesses, Bedford Reinforced Plastics is currently experiencing a labor shortage. “We’re looking for general laborers and skilled laborers, from CNC operators up to salespeople and customer service staff, and we also need to add to our engineering team,” Wright said.

Mike O’Dellick, the new administrative director for the Bedford County Technical Center (BCTC), said more than 150 students from his school’s Building, Automotive and Welding programs attended MFG Day this year.

“We are excited to continue the partnerships we have with our local employers, in particular this year’s host, Bedford Reinforced Plastics,” he said. “MFG Day is a vital component of our strong economic development in Bedford County. It helps remove students’ misconceptions of what manufacturing looks like as it sheds light on the highly technology driven industries and the need for a skilled labor workforce.”

Through the program, BCTC students and students from other participating high schools were able to see firsthand how the skills they learn can be applied across various industries in Bedford County.

“It provides additional motivation for students to excel in their respective programs so they can be prepared to successfully enter the workforce upon graduation,” O’Dellick said.

Bedford Careers Booth

Other schools that participated in the MFG Day event included Bedford High School; Northern Bedford High School; Everett Area High School; HOPE for Hyndman Charter School; Tussey Mountain Senior High School, Claysburg-Kimmel High School; and Foundations Christian Academy.

Additional manufacturers and support organizations who gave presentations to students during the event included JLG Industries, Inc.; XPO Logistics; Lampire Biological Laboratories; Mission Critical Solutions; PA Career Link – Bedford County; Penn Highlands Community College; Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center; Triangle Tech; Allegheny College of Maryland; Williamson College of the Trades; West Central Equipment; Kovlar Precision Manufacturing; and the Bedford County Development Association.