Ashley Furniture Industries is celebrating National Manufacturing Day by providing tours to local middle school students for the fifth year in a row. National Manufacturing Day, which officially fell on October 1, is celebrated throughout the month of October by manufacturers across the country. 

Manufacturing Day, originated by the National Association of Manufacturers, is the industry’s biggest initiative to build excitement around the future of the modern manufacturing workforce and engage with students to demonstrate the exciting opportunities within the industry. As manufacturers seek to fill 4 million high-skill, high-tech and high-paying jobs over the next decade, the need to educate the public of the endless opportunities and career pathways is exponential. 

In 2019, more than 325,000 Manufacturing Day participants took part in 3,000 events across North America. Due to the pandemic, the annual tradition of Ashley’s Manufacturing Day tour has been transformed into a virtual event for 2020 and 2021. 

Nearly 1,400 middle school students surrounding Ashley’s advanced-manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi were invited for an educational virtual tour. Students will see a variety of career opportunities available within the company from operating a machine with automation to engineering and designing furniture. Students will also learn about the importance of manufacturing and the economic benefits of the industry. 

“With the advancement of manufacturing technologies and equipment, comes an entire new set of careers that require a skilled workforce interested in pursuing them,” said Todd Wanek, president and CEO of Ashley Furniture Industries. “By sharing this excitement with young students, we hope to inspire the next generation of makers.” 

Participating school districts in Wisconsin include Arcadia, Blair-Taylor, Cochrane-Fountain City, Eleva-Strum, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, Independence, and Whitehall.

“Experiences like this are extremely beneficial extensions of the classroom for young students,” Eleva-Strum Technology Education Teacher Tyson Rohrscheibt said. “Collaborating with industry partners like Ashley Furniture and the community is vital to better prepare our students for future work and life by showing them what is out there and available to them.” 

Ashley has developed a number of partnerships with K-12 as well as post-secondary schools over the past five years. Combined efforts have included investing in STEM-based learning opportunities, scholarships, providing students with exposure to technical trades and career opportunities, instructor training, and robotics programs. As manufacturing continues to advance and the global economy evolves, training and educating our current and future workforce will be a crucial part of our country’s success.