By Craig Brown, Greenville Drive; Dr. Keith Miller, Greenville Technical College; Kevin Poyck, Hubbell Lighting; Knudt Flor, BMW Manufacturing

On one side, you have strong careers in advanced manufacturing and engineering. On the other, people qualified to fill them. The gap between those two is growing, and that skills gap keeps some of the largest employers in our area from reaching their potential.

The U.S is the world’s largest manufacturing economy, and in South Carolina, manufacturing helps to drive a strong economy. Yet over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed, but more than 2.4 million of those jobs will go unfilled because of the skills gap. The problem is compounded as baby boomers retire from these positions in record numbers, and there are no qualified applicants to replace them.

As our community often does when a problem emerges, we have come together to find a solution. The Upstate’s prosperity and long-term success are at stake. We are calling attention to these jobs and the education needed to qualify in hopes that young people and their parents will see the potential in advanced manufacturing and engineering, and that today’s students will become the highly skilled and well-paid workers we need to grow.

For the fourth year in a row, the Greenville Drive is teaming up with Greenville Technical College, BMW Manufacturing, and Hubbell Lighting to host Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Night at Fluor Field. The event will be held on Wednesday, July 31. CEOs representing the sponsors along with leaders from Michelin, GE, the Greenville Chamber, and Clemson University will appear in a video shown during the game that is designed to appeal to parents, influencers, and young people. Leaders will also participate in a panel discussion that night so that those in attendance can hear directly from them about the unique work experience and exciting career opportunities that are available in the rapidly changing world of advanced manufacturing and engineering.

Greenville Drive

To encourage students to take part in a fun evening that also serves as an important learning experience, the Drive will provide tickets and special “Ignite the Passion” T-shirts to all K-12 students — free of charge. Students will be able to visit 10 exhibits representing the region’s largest companies and demonstrating the creative application of technology to the manufacturing process. Exhibits will include tic tac toe vs. a robot, a 3D scan of the Boston Red Sox World Series ring, and more. As they tour the exhibits, students can enroll in the Young Innovators Club, where they will have the opportunity to win prizes including drones, driving experiences at the BMW Performance Center, an iDevices package from Hubbell Lighting, and more. Adults are also encouraged to attend, with tickets for the event and a great evening of Drive baseball starting at just $8.

Please join us when the Greenville Drive hosts Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Night at Fluor Field. Help us find a solution to the skills gap challenge as we show the next generation a path to success. For tickets and information, go to www.GreenvilleDrive.com/ame.

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