CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Manufacturers and others responsible for attracting jobs in West Virginia need to get tomorrow's workforce interested in their industries at a young age, a speaker at an economic forum said Wednesday.
With coal industry jobs dwindling and young people leaving the state to find work, members of a panel at the Clay Center in Charleston discussed workforce training and directing students toward getting degrees that fit available jobs.
"The most important thing we have to do is help inspire the next generation and tell our children a new story," said David Satterfield, director of asset development in the West Virginia University Office of Research and Economic Development.
Satterfield said while growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1960s, he thought that manufacturing was a dirty job involving unskilled labor, large buildings and heavy equipment -- and that it wasn't a career choice for him. Today, those jobs in West Virginia involve careers in aerospace, biometrics, advanced engineering, chemicals and polymers, and the automotive sector, among other things.
And students need to know that even an associate's degree can get their foot into the door of those industries, Satterfield said.
"We need each of you as an economic development professional to be an evangelist for manufacturing," he told his audience.
On national manufacturing day Oct. 4, 160 fifth graders in Monongalia County will take a tour of places who offer the jobs in Morgantown.