GW Plastics holds high school course

GW Plastics, a manufacturer in rural Vermont, had an interesting problem on its hands. Its most high-paying jobs were also the hardest to fill. 

"Historically, when we look for our technical people, we look for somebody who already has the skills coming in the door and we've had to look outside of the state, according to to VPR, Vermont's NPR news source. It's very challenging to attract people to move to rural Vermont," Cathy Tempesta, director of human resources at GW Plastics said. 

To solve the problem of not being able to find local, qualified talent, GW Plastics has chosen to instill a program where it teaches high school students about the manufacturing industry. The School of Tech took on 10 students from a local high school for hands-on training and in-class lectures. 

GW Plastics heard of a similar program at a New Hampshire manufacturer and decided to pursue it on their own. 

"We started thinking, why not look at the people who are already here?" asked Tempesta "Offer the kids the opportunities for more education, for the skills, for the experience – and stay where their families are."

Fostering the minds of the future
GW Plastics busses students to its state-of-the-art facilities for an entire semester, which shows that they're taking an interest into their own future, as well as that of the local community. Company employees work with the program to compose presentations to give the students in classroom settings, then take them out to the floor to show them the real-world applications of their previous lessons. 

Providing real-world use is exactly what birthed the School of Tech. While GW Plastics viewed it as an opportunity to also potentially fill jobs with homegrown candidates, Randolph Union High School teacher Ken Cadow hopes it will give the students a chance to get an idea of the career options they'll later have. Cadow said that, so some students, school subjects can be viewed[reread, something off] as broad overviews or concepts, while opportunities like the School of Tech provide added value to their lessons. 

Students not only get to apply mathematical equations and laws of physics by seeing machines work intricately on the line, but they get to interact with marketing and human resources departments, which Cadow feels makes lessons about communication and things learned in English classes all the more applicable. 

Helping in the higher level
While GW Plastics is taking great strides to build a relationship with and improve the knowledge of high school students, it also realized that more needed to be done. GW Plastics has also gone on to fund the GW Plastics' Carl Symonds Memorial Scholarship, in partnership with Vermont Technical College, according to a press release. Students enrolled at the college's Mechanical Engineering Technology program are eligible for both a scholarship and a paid internship at GW Plastics over the summer. 

"For students who may not have thought college and a rewarding career path were financially attainable, this can be life-changing," said Brenan Riehl, GW Plastics President and CEO. "We are fortunate to have built a strong partnership with Vermont Technical College, a leader in applied technical education for manufacturing."