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      Interesting youth in manufacturing

      A recent survey of Upper Peninsula manufacturers by Michigan Works estimates the need for 9,000 skilled laborers by 2012.

      That's the number they say will maintain current manufacturing production. But they also say the lack of students going into manufacturing jobs could mean a shortage of 3,000 skilled laborers.

      But members of the Upper Peninsula Regional Industrial Manufacturing Skills Alliance say they're going to fall short of that number.

      "We feel that our students here in the Upper Peninsula are moving away," said Sarah Cole of Michigan Works and the Upper Peninsula Regional Industrial Manufacturing Skills Alliance. "They're not aware of the jobs that are available here."

      Cole, along with Bob Loukus of R.E.L. Machine, talked with shop and machine shop classes at CLK High School Wednesday. They're hoping to get more young people interested into going into skilled trades. They also visited Lake Linden High School and will go to Chassell and Ontonagon Thursday.

      "Right now, welders are in high demand, along with computer-aided design, and engineers, as well," said Cole. "There's a lot of firms in the U.P. in manufacturing that are looking for those three mainly."

      Although CLK High School still offers a C.A.D. class, many schools in the U.P. have dropped similar curriculum. Manufacturers say that's worrisome because many high school graduates don't have the skills to just walk on the job.

      "They might have to look at two-year programs," says Loukus, "or advanced training offered for specific machines that they would be running."