A number of Jacksonville High School students received a first-hand look at local manufacturing Friday morning.
A group of JHS juniors toured the Reynolds Consumer Products west plant on Superior Avenue in recognition of Manufacturing Month. Students were able to see the process from start to finish of how trash bags are made at the plant.
President of the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation, Kristin Jamison, says JREDC along with the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with Jacksonville School District 117 and Reynolds Consumer Products to give high school students insight into the manufacturing industry, and show them what types of opportunities are available locally.
“Both the Chamber of Commerce and Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation are really excited to promote the manufacturing opportunities in Jacksonville, and certainly to be at Reynolds today with students from Jacksonville High School.
We understand how important manufacturing is to our community and this region, and to just be able to make these operations visible to young people is important as we try to build career pipelines.”
Jamison says that before the Covid pandemic put everything on hold, plans were in the works to create a sort of Intro to Manufacturing class at the high school to help give students a larger picture of available careers. She says through the existing CVE program at JHS, this is the first step in developing a course that hopefully will be expanded to other local companies and schools.
Assistant Principal at JHS Dan Scott, who toured the facility with the students, says field trips like these go hand in hand with the school’s goal of making sure graduating students are ready for the workplace in any industry or field.
“We’ve got a good group of juniors here who get a good opportunity to build on our mission at Jacksonville High School of putting college and career-ready students into post-secondary life. So this was a good opportunity for them to see an example of the workforce with a good community partner with Reynolds here in Jacksonville.”
The joint program is open to students during their senior year and allows them to get first-hand experience, including employment. Human Resources Manager for Reynolds Consumer Products in Jacksonville, Amy Quigg, says programs like these help not only the students but also the manufacturers themselves as labor shortages continue across the country.
“One of the things I found that were so vital to partner with JHS is because just like anything it’s a declining workforce, and a lot of the students don’t understand that there are opportunities right here within your community to have a very strong successful career. So by working with JHS and allowing them to bring the students in again shows them the potential as far as leadership roles as well as mechanical roles.”
the students also heard from a number of employees about their experiences working in the manufacturing industry and were treated to lunch during the presentation. Two JHS seniors will soon be starting employment at Reynolds related to the program.
Reynolds Consumer Products employs more than 800 full-time and over 80 temporary
employees from the greater Jacksonville area.