IAM Tours Chicago High School Manufacturing Institute

IAM HPWO Grand Lodge Representative Jim Reid, far left, and IAM General Vice President Diane Babineaux, far right, tour the Manufacturing Connect program at Austin Polytechnical Academy on Chicago’s West Side. IAM Local 126 Directing Business Representative Joe Pijanowski, a member of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council, and IAM Midwest Territory Communications Representative Mike King also went on the tour.

IAM General Vice President Diane Babineaux and IAM HPWO Grand Lodge Representative Jim Reid recently toured an innovative career technical education program that is giving high school students on Chicago’s West Side the training they need to get manufacturing jobs upon graduation.

Austin Polytechnical Academy (APA), a public high school with many students from low-income families, partnered with the non-profit Manufacturing Renaissance in 2007 to create a program called Manufacturing Connect to train and credential students on site for jobs in manufacturing.

Since 2010, 162 APA students have earned 241 machining credentials from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills. Since 2011, Manufacturing Connect has placed 30 APA graduates in full-time jobs averaging over $12 an hour plus benefits.

“Manufacturing Connect showed me what is possible for my career,” said Neopatra Hawkins, a 2014 APA graduate. “I can be an engineer and I can own my own manufacturing company some day and be a leader in my community.”

Manufacturing Connect estimates that the Austin Manufacturing Innovation Park on Chicago’s West Side will add 400 to 600 new manufacturing jobs to the community in the next 18 to 24 months.

“Manufacturing Connect shows what’s possible when labor, business and educational institutions come together for a common cause,” said Babineaux. “It’s great to see so many students at Austin Polytech getting a chance to have long-lasting and rewarding careers in manufacturing.”

Click here to watch an AFL-CIO video on the impact of Manufacturing Connect.

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