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Allegion working to educate future workforce

All manufacturers facing many retirements of Baby Boomers

A company with roots in Princeton dating back nearly 100 years wants to educate its future workforce by working with schools to inform potential employees about their possible career choices in manufacturing.

“We interact with schools to educate students to see if they want to have a career in manufacturing,” said Sarah Krisch from Allegion. “We regular host Princeton High School students for one day or a semester internship in IT, engineering, finance or manufacturing.”

Allegion officials have been talking with Princeton High School administrators, other area manufacturers and IVCC to form a partnership to refurnish the school’s tool room. This will allow the teaching of students on how to do machining, tool and die.

“We are real supportive of that because that is in direct line with what we do here,” she added. “We want kids to have some hands-on experience with that type of machinery, so they can understand if it is something they would be interested in learning more about or pursue a career in it. It is real nice to see the community members wanting to work together on something like that. Our hope is to be open for PHS classes in the fall.”

Visits to the Area Career Center in Peru were held to talk to them to understand what they are teaching and support that can be provided to figure out how to educate the future workforce.

“There has been a real good feeling a support in the community from schools to pitch in and work together,” she said. Starved Rock Advantage, a non-profit company, was formed to get employers to work together to set workforce needs.

Another avenue being explored is Inspire Illinois, a computer program to tell students what classes to take and to get paid internships. or develop profiles to connect local employers with those who want to do those jobs.

“If they want to be a an engineer, they can click a button and talk to an engineer in the area to find out what that career encompasses and classes they should take,” reported Krisch, a board member of Starved Rock Advantage. “It is really a good partnership with the community to reach out to the students.”

With many Baby Boomers retiring across the country, all manufacturers like Allegion will be experiencing many retirements in the next five to 10 years.

“As they retire, how do we replace that tribal knowledge they have,” added Krisch. “They know so much. How do we begin to bring in a 17 or 18 year old in to know everything they know?“

Krisch reported it is not so much about job skills right now.

“It is more about getting kids excited about manufacturing,” she added. “It has been something that has been perceived where you go in and get filthy dirty. It is not that way any more. It is a safe environment. It is a good career with good wages. A lot of people have made their lives here. We hope to do that with the next generation.”

Founded in 1926, LCN Closers became a division of Ingersoll-Rand in 1974, which then became a division of Allegion in 2013.

Cast iron door closers are the products primarily manufactured at Princeton, but aluminum cast door closers are also being manufactured now to meet customer needs.

Each day 5,000 to 6,000 door closers are made at the Princeton plant on West Railroad Avenue by employees, which total 350 in all. A majority of the employees are long tenured with many spending their entire working careers there.

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