For the last
several months, one project Iíve been working on is to establish a south
suburban chapter of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council (CMRC). I
became acquainted with CMRC during my time as chief of staff for the Chicago Teachers
Union (CTU) and was greatly impressed by its work in creating Austin
Polytechnical Academy (APA), a high school in Chicagoís
neighborhood that specializes in preparing students for careers in the
The CMRC is a
coalition of educators, industrial leaders, labor representatives, government
figures, and community-based organizers who are working to re-establish a
strong manufacturing base in the greater Chicago
area. At Austin Polytech, several manufacturing firms are active partners who
provide students with financial assistance, job-shadowing, internships, and the
opportunity for employment after graduation.
secondary school within the Chicago Public Schools system, APA offers its
students the opportunity to gain the necessary credentials to enter the new
highly-technical world of manufacturing immediately upon graduation from high
school, or to be prepared for college degrees in management, engineering, and
other fields related to manufacturing.
retired from the CTU staff in July 2010, I became committed to the idea of
creating similar educational opportunities for high school students in our
south suburban region. In the time since then, Iíve been working with a group
of elected officials, manufacturers, educators, labor representatives, and
folks from community-based organizations to create a South Suburban CMRC
Chapter. We are progressing very well and Iím optimistic we will see our dream
of providing manufacturing-related educational opportunities for the young
people of our region become reality.
advanced by CMRC is that students who want to become a part of the new world of
manufacturing must begin at the earliest points in their high school careers to
prepare themselves. Good math skills and an understanding of technology are
paramount, as are good communication skills and the ability to interact
effectively with other workers. All these elements are part of the curriculum
at APA, along with hands-on training on simulators and actual machinery. Upon
graduation, students have credentials that open doors for their future careers:
if they so choose, they can go to work immediately; if they so choose, they can
move on to a community college to further their skills; if they choose, they
can proceed to a four-year college or university for degrees in engineering,
management, or related topics.
with their freshman year in high school, the students are encouraged to be
creative about their potential roles in the world of manufacturing. APA even
offers seminars Ė in cooperation with John Marshall
Ė in patent law so students can learn how to protect their ideas and gain the
most from them. Faculty and staff at APA like to talk about how theyíre helping
to prepare the entrepreneurs and company owners of tomorrow.
pleased to be working with some local educators to advance the possibility of
offering APA-type instruction to young people in our south suburban area.
Having a trained workforce coming out of our secondary schools can be a major
boost in our efforts to draw more manufacturing companies to our region.
manufacturing is nothing like the dirty factories of yesterday; instead, itís
clean, comprehensive, and high-tech. Most importantly, it pays good wages. If we
can prepare our high school students to move into this new world of
manufacturing, and if we can convince more manufacturing companies to locate in
our region because of the trained workforce we can offer them, then everyone
will benefit. As an elected official, I feel I have an obligation to work as
diligently as possible to make dreams such as this come true.
Mayor John A. Ostenburg