PAINESVILLE, Ohio — The recently passed $1.2 trillion American Infrastructure Act is expected to add two million jobs a year to the American economy over the next 10 years. Many of those jobs will be in manufacturing as there are Made in America provisions in the Act requiring all of the iron, steel, and construction materials used in projects to be produced in America.
That will require an expanded manufacturing workforce in the years to come and Senator Sherrod Brown wants to teach them young.
“Fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh graders is who we aim at,” Brown told News 5 in talking about this summer’s manufacturing camps his office is sponsoring this summer.
"We've now done them ten years, the first one was in Youngstown in 2013 we're now doing 25 camps around the state. It involves local businesses, local teachers, parents who love seeing their children get this sort of hands-on experience,” Brown said. “They may want to be an apprentice carpenter or they may want to work as a technician and this gives them those opportunities and these skills and pique their interest at that young age… I hear from parents all the time how excited their kids are and that makes the parents pretty thrilled about their children's future.”
What makes this week’s camp in Painesville unique though is it involves 5th and 6th-grade girls only, no boys.
"We've tried to make a point of this week letting the girls know that this is not just a male job opportunity,” said Lead Counselor Jim Watson.
In addition to in-class projects, Rachel Metcalf of the Alliance for Working Together Foundation said they visit local manufacturers and hear from women in leadership positions.
"A lot of the girls won't think about these types of careers,” said Metcalf. “So having it be girls-only they can really come out of their shells being around other girls and having us have the presenters of the tours be female engineers or females they'll see themselves in those roles by seeing other people."
That being said it can still be a little intimidating.
"When you went into the factory it was like a bit loud,” said 5th Grader Ellie Ranta. When asked if it was something she might want to do someday, she said no, she wants to be a Sheriff. When fellow 5th Grader Margaret Ghobrial what she wanted to do when she grew up she said “probably not that I don't think. But it was pretty interesting though."
Her mind though is open, which is key, plus there's no need to rush those life decisions in 5th grade.