Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., like many companies in the rubber industry, is trying to find ways to develop its talent pipeline. It realized that to do so, manufacturing needs to have a voice early on in a child's education.
The company has used Manufacturing Day as a platform. And in conjunction with the Manufacturing Institute's "Dream It. Do It." program, the company established its own "Dream Team," which consists of employees who serve as year-round ambassadors for manufacturing.
The team does a number of community outreach activities with local high schools and colleges, but the majority of them are centered around eighth graders, and the biggest is Manufacturing Day. The last two years Cooper has hosted events at all three of its plants for middle schoolers and offered the chance to experience what it's like to work in the rubber industry. Kids take on roles—for instance a tire builder—and work one-on-one with employees to learn the job.
Cooper Tire said it's reached 10,000 eighth graders through its Manufacturing Day programs.
"All year long, they're doing things out in the community to educate young people about careers in manufacturing, using themselves as a great example," a company spokeswoman said of the Dream Team. "There isn't really anything that communicates better than being able to go out into a group of young people or a classroom and talk about your experience in the manufacturing world."