The air is crisp, the leaves are changing, and school is back in session. Our local schools are an incredibly important part of our community, not only because they educate our children, but also because they are the talent pool for our future workforce. Steel King believes that being actively involved in our educational system is not only the right thing to do as a member of the community, but it can also be good for our business. We talked with Jeremy Krause, Stevens Point Maintenance Supervisor, and Dan Wierzba, Central Inside Sales, to learn a little more about the different ways that Steel King gives back to our schools.
One way that Steel King participates in our local school system is by sharing our professional perspective. Steel King employees have gone into schools and spoken to industrial classes about the manufacturing industry in general, as well as Steel King and our role within the industry. We have also participated in employer panels, talking with groups of students about manufacturing and what Steel King offers in terms of both products and workforce opportunities. We also attend and contribute to curriculum advisory meetings for high schools looking to better refine their programs, as well as offer advice on their current course offerings, providing a real-world manufacturing employer perspective. On top of that, says Jeremy, “I sit on the weld advisory committee for [Mid-State Technical College] MSTC where we offer guidance on where the industry is going, what employers are looking for in prospective employee’s skill sets … and where MSTC’s program could grow to better service students and employers.”
Over the years Steel King has donated a large amount of scrap and other steel to the local high schools and MSTC for their welding programs, along with used equipment such as welders etc. Jeremy shared that “many of these schools have stated that if it wasn’t for our donations their welding programs would suffer due to lack of budget for materials.” Steel King has also donated time and materials to the Skills USA welding competition, along with officiating different welding competitions locally, regionally, and nationally.
For many years Steel King has run a youth apprentice program in partnership with local high schools, where we bring in one or two students who work part time in our plants while earning credit towards graduation. In addition, the Stevens Point facility has participated in the “Heavy Metal Tour”, run through Mid-State Technical College, for over 5 years now. During the “Tour”, 8th graders from the Stevens Point school district, along with other school districts in the central and northern Wisconsin area, spend their day touring various manufacturers to try to drum up interest in the manufacturing job opportunities that are in our area. Dan, who coordinates Steel King’s participation, explains that each year Steel Kings hosts 3 to 4 tour groups over the course of that one day, with each group having between 35-50 students and teachers. “We split each of these tour groups into 3 smaller groups so that we can better manage walking each group through our plant here,” explains Dan, “to show them from start to finish what we do. It’s a lot of fun for me to have these soon-to-be job seekers see exactly what we do, as most of them (including their teachers) have no idea what “Steel King” is or what we do.” The program was suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid, but the goal is to resume in the fall 2022.
A huge thank you to all our employees who help give back to our local school systems in any way, big or small!