MATTOON (JG-TC) -- About 140 high school students from throughout Coles County toured eight different manufacturing plants and other employers Thursday during the annual "Manufacturing Day" event.
Coles Together, the county's economic development organization, sponsors the tours each year to show the students what takes place at the operations and help them make career decisions.
Coles Together President Angela Griffin said the county is "uniquely positioned" to train students for careers in today's environment.
She noted that Eastern Illinois University and Lake Land College offer curriculum to lead to manufacturing careers. Many current employees acquired degrees and skills in their home communities, she said.
"Manufacturing Day is important for both the student and the company," Griffin said.
She explained that there's a shortage of and an increasing demand for workers who can fit the employers' needs.
Student from Charleston, Mattoon and Oakland high schools took part in Thursday's tours.
The students were able to visit Justrite Manufacturing, MARS Petcare, LSC Communications (formerly RR Donnelley Co.), Birkey’s Farm Store, ITW Hi-Cone, Pinnacle Foods (maker of Lender’s Bagels), Consolidated Communications and Coles County Memorial Airport.
According to Griffin, Manufacturing Day is an event that celebrates modern manufacturing. She said it takes place each in October and is observed in all 50 states and well as Puerto Rico, Canada and throughout Europe.