Welcome to MFG Day at Keats

MFG Day, STEM Education and Why Keats Cares

Bert and Glenn Keats saw more than just the Northwest Side of Chicago in 1958 — they saw opportunity. Starting with three employees and growing to triple digits is something we’re proud of as a company and as a family, and we couldn’t have done it without smart, dedicated, hardworking people.

MFG-Day-LogoNational MFG Day

We know that the future of our company — and American manufacturing — lies with today’s students and their communities. It’s why we’re so proud to be a part of Manufacturing Day and modern education in Illinois.

Keats-MFGDay-1-2014We’re thrilled to join the nation’s manufacturers on October 2, 2015, in opening our doors for tours and education about our craft. Connecting with future generations is important to us — we were just as proud to host young people as to see Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner last year, and we look forward to sharing our work again with this year’s tours.

Keats and Education

The team at Keats supports education and opportunity for young people at every chance we get, not just once a year. We developed Keats University for exceptional in-house training for our employees because it’s vital, not only to the success of our people and our company, but of our industry at large.

Today’s Illinois is a very different place from that of our grandfathers, and encouraging our young talent is more important than ever. These future engineers and manufacturers deserve not only to be inspired and hired, but trained and mentored — it’s why we promote STEM education and the Illinois Department of Commerce’s Youth Task Force Board. It’s also why we’re so lucky to be involved with the staff and students at Wheeling High School.

Of our 110 employees, 17 graduated from Wheeling High School. We’re proud to say that, and we were honored to be invited to teach a class for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs there. We strongly support the STEM Education Program at Wheeling, as well as the Manufacturing Career Internship program with the Illinois WorkNet Center. As we seek interns throughout the year, we’re fortunate to look to Wheeling for bright young talent.

To learn more about the work we do at Keats or the role of manufacturers and the future of American work, check out our feature in The United States of Trade. Over 50 years of excellence gives us more than a great story — it inspires us for the future.

Closing the Skills Gap with Keats

The news has been filled with stories about a “skills gap” in the manufacturing sector. While experts disagree on the severity of the current problem, they all agree that if not mitigated it will become a very real and very big problem by the end of the decade. One study even puts the number at a deficit of 875,000 highly skilled workers in 10 years.
 
At Keats, we have always been concerned with finding the next generation of skilled workers. We feel that one part of the answer lies in a robust and paid internship program. In fact, we recently hired five new employees from our latest internship group. Historically, manufacturers have recruited through colleges, high schools and vocational schools. While there was a time when this might have worked, it just doesn’t get the job done anymore. Thanks to cut backs in actual hands-on manufacturing training in today’s schools, kids just aren’t graduating with a high enough level of skills, or in many cases, none at all. Our internship program allows us to not only see who can develop the best manufacturing skills, it also lets us understand who will be the best as a worker, and a team member. Unlike blindly hiring based strictly on qualifications, we get a detailed look at our interns’ work habits, motivation level, and dedication to learning.
 
Thanks to these tangible benefits, the internship program has been a smashing success. A recent graduation ceremony for the statewide internship program, which has supplied interns to Keats, not only produced some promising new employees but also featured a speech by Illinois’ Senator Dick Durbin praising our efforts.
 
The skills gap problem is not going away on its own. Companies, schools, and governments need to focus on finding and creating solutions as soon as possible. We hope that our successful internship program will inspire others to follow us in building a strong future for American manufacturing.