On Friday, February 21, 2014 in partnership with Made in Henderson County, educators from Henderson County Public Schools participated in a lunch and tour of BorgWarner Thermal Systems’ 170,000 square foot manufacturing facility. BorgWarner has been located in Fletcher, NC since 1999, growing to 275 full-time employees. The thermal division is responsible for developing and manufacturing fan drive components commonly found in commercial vehicles (medium & heavy duty trucks), light vehicles (pickup trucks & SUVs) and off-highway vehicles (excavators, dozers and loading equipment). Company-wide, the business operates 57 locations in 19 countries, representing a total workforce of approximately 19,000 persons.
During the event, BorgWarner leadership highlighted several careers projected to be in high-demand over the next 5 years including machine operators, maintenance technicians, and positions in quality control, engineering, and accounting/finance. BorgWarner stressed an interest in students that possess aptitudes for math, science, critical thinking, and who have interest in technologies utilized in advanced manufacturing, such as Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machinery, robotics, injection molding equipment, and three-dimensional Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. To gain the necessary experience for employment, students are encouraged to pursue pathways to employment that include Career and Technical Education classes, and enrollment in Henderson County Public School’s Mechatronics Academy, a multidisciplinary program, designed to introduce students to the basics of mechanical, electrical, telecommunications, control and computer engineering. Students were also encouraged to consider industry-based internships, job shadowing, and post-secondary programs at Blue Ridge Community College and/or four-year colleges focused on engineering, accounting, math, science and business management.
According to Plant Manager, Steve Racher, “Our primary goal with the Made in Henderson County effort is to help change the perception of manufacturing. Advanced manufacturing businesses need team members who are motivated and understand the complexities and problem-solving nature of the manufacturing sector. The education and skills required to fill available positions are highly specialized and we want students, teachers and guidance counselors to be prepared and understand, first-hand, what it takes to be successful in our company.” Dr. Helen Owen, Career & Technical Education Director with Henderson County Public Schools, added, “As educators we understand that our current students are Henderson County’s future workforce. Our graduates are among the best in North Carolina, and we want students to be able to pursue their passions through high-quality, local employment opportunities.”
Henderson County, NC is home to 135 manufacturing operations that support a workforce of over 5,250 employees with a combined total payroll of more than $259 million, and average wages exceeding $49,000/year. Professions in the manufacturing sector continue to be an attractive value proposition for students as well as existing job seekers.