Company prepares its future workforce

Local News

DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — What do you want to be when you grow up is a question kids hear all the time. The answer might be doctor or lawyer, or even Instagram influencer these days.

But, when is the last time you heard a kid dream of going into manufacturing? It’s probably been awhile.

But, Thyssenkrupp is trying to change that with a high school apprenticeship program. The goal is to get young kids interested in manufacturing early with the hopes they’ll stick around.

Jackson Winn has always been hands-on.

“I’m not someone who can sit down and read out of a book to learn something.”

That’s why he joined Thyssenkrupp’s Youth Apprenticeship Program (YAP) three years ago.

“By the time you graduate, you graduate with two years of work experience, a high school diploma and 23 credit hours.”

Annie Monyok is head of human resources at Thyssenkrupp Presta. The company makes camshafts, or the lungs of your car’s engine.

About five years ago, Monyok says they started recruiting high school kids to help.

“We really saw a need in the community for students to get involved with manufacturing as a long-term career.”

Half the manufacturing workforce in the US is 45 or older. Right now, there aren’t enough young people entering the field to replace them when they retire. Here, the program is designed to change that.

“Manufacturing has had kind of a tough rap in Vermilion County and this is really an opportunity for the industry and the community to partner together.”

High school apprentices get to do a little bit of everything. Monyok says the hope is they’ll find their niche and stick around like Winn. He’s now a college engineering intern at Krupp.

“Jackson is the perfect example of coming through the YAP, realizing manufacturing is the place I want to be. Engineering is something I’m really passionate about.”

Finding that passion isn’t the only perk. Winn also gets tuition assistance, just another reason he recommends the program.

“You can go to engineering. You can go to quality, safety, production, anything you want to be. This is the way to do it.”

The program is really great for students who don’t plan to go to college. They can start as apprentices in high school and join the company full time after graduation. It’s a great foot in the door.  

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