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      Gamers, women in demand for manufacturing careers

      Video gamers and women are unlikely colleagues, but that's who manufacturers want to hire.

      Looking for work? Job hunters got some leads Thursday to gain skills in high demand.

      There are a growing number of jobs in the local manufacturing sector these days.

      Job seekers of all ages attended John Wood Community College's first Manufacturing Expo at the school's Workforce Development Center. The afternoon event featured the wide array of high-tech jobs and skills needed in local companies.

      Video gamers and women are unlikely colleagues, but that's who manufacturers want to hire.

      The field is full of head-of-household careers, but finding people with the right skills is getting harder for employers.

      Jim Fuhrman has worked with specialized industrial machines for years. But now he's teaching John Wood Community College students at the Workforce Development Center the high-tech skills local companies are looking for.

      "They have to have someone in place that knows how to operate those machines," Fuhrman, Manufacturing and Training Coordinator said. "Some of these machines are upwards of a half million dollars. You can't just pull someone in off the street to operate the machine and tear it up. They have to go through training to know what they're doing."

      Students here learn the latest skills, from computerized drafting, to automated milling. Click here to watch more about the tech advances seen today to the milling machines live on KHQA This Morning.

      Training like this addresses a skills gap in today's workforce and a workers shortage in the very near future. Click here to watch more about drafting and Design from KHQA This Morning.

      From the design, students make 3-D plastic models. Click here to watch the machine at work. Here is the final product of the design done on KHQA This Morning.

      "T here are a lot of baby boomers and older workers in the manufacturing sector and its a large part of our economy so we want to get the younger crowd trained in the manufacturing area so they are abreast of the technology skills needed to work in these industries." David Camphouse, Manager of Career and Technical Initiatives said.

      What kind of people are good at these highly technical jobs?

      "Video gamers," Fuhrman said.

      Why is that?

      "They like pushing buttons and they are paying attention to what they're doing all the time," Fuhrman said. "Anyone who is good at math. This is a math trade so you have to be good at basic math."

      Women are also sought after in this field because of their attention to detail.

      While some students are learning a new career, others are expanding their skills.

      John O'Brien, has worked manufacturing jobs for 40 years, but saw the need to go back to class, to keep up with the ever-changing field.

      "Technology is constantly changing," O'Brien said. "So for me to keep up with the needs of my customers, I have to learn new skills to enhance the ones I already have."

      Click here to watch O'Brien on KHQA This Morning.

      Skills in high demand as the local manufacturing industry grows.

      More than 17 percent of people employed in Adams County work in the manufacturing sector.

      Skilled workers are such high demand that federally-funded paid training opportunities are available to qualified individuals.

      Participants may also apply for Central Illinois Advanced Manufacturing Partnership manufacturing skills training during the expo, to be offered by JWCC. Through the ??Accelerated Training for Illinois Manufacturing?? (ATIM), selected individuals will receive paid training based on the needs of regional employers. The accelerated training is in response to the growing skills gap encountered by manufacturers. Prior work experience in manufacturing is helpful, but not required to qualify. Financial support for the ATIM paid training is provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity using federal Workforce Investment Act funds. Training qualification information is available at www.ilworknetmanufacturing.com/ATIM or from representatives at the JWCC Manufacturing Expo.