Technology is making manufacturing a cool career choice for Lee’s Summit students

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- Students are touring three plants that use advanced technology, as part of President Trump's National Manufacturing Day.

The rebound in producing products is prompting more young people to choose careers in factories.

It used to be that not many teens were interested in working in manufacturing.  It was considered boring, repetitive and dirty work.

But technology has helped bring production back from overseas and changed how we make things in this country.

Polytainers is celebrating 50 years in Lee's Summit making specialty packaging for the food and dairy industry.

About 50 students are seeing how today's assembly line doesn't involve as much physical labor as it does problem solving through rewriting software or changing how machines do their work.

"The technology has definitely changed the industry," said Jessica Hamilton, of the Lee's Summit Economic Development Council. "But it’s still for the best. We are not losing jobs necessarily, because of innovation and technology. As a matter of fact it’s just gaining a new skill set, it’s a new way of thinking. You still have to have people to operate the machines."

Last year, the average American manufacturing worker earned about $85,000 in pay and benefits. Average pay is $27 an hour with more than nine out of ten eligible for employer provided health insurance. That's a higher rate than many other industries.

The National Association of Manufacturers says during the next ten years, 3.5-million manufacturing jobs are expected to be created, but many may go unfilled if workers lack skills to operate and troubleshoot technology.