When the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to upend a five-year tradition of showcasing their high-tech advanced manufacturing operations to students via field trips, Allegion didn’t blink. In fact, the global company—which houses its Americas regional offices in Carmel as well as two manufacturing facilities and a technical center in Indianapolis—took the opportunity to expand its reach.

Its pivot could mean dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands of high schools and career centers can access its 2020 Manufacturing Day virtual field trips at no cost. That’s important because 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will be available in the US over the next decade, but there’s an expected 2.4 million manufacturing worker shortage, especially those with technical skills.

In Indiana, where the manufacturing sector makes up 17 percent of the state’s economy, closing the skills gap is key to keeping the sector alive and thriving. Allegion, which employs more than 650 Hoosiers in manufacturing and a total of nearly 3,000 in manufacturing across the US, sees its investment in the field trips as critical to the future success of what’s been deemed an essential industry.

“We want to be on the forefront of inspiring the next generation of manufacturing employees,” said Cindy Farrer, Allegion’s VP of global operations and integrated supply chain. “It’s not just important for students to learn about opportunities in manufacturing; we believe it’s just as important for their parents, friends and family—those people who support them in their future careers—to know. This year, we’re especially excited to have a fully packaged presentation that can be used essentially on demand.”

Teachers who want to access the virtual field trips should email PR@allegion.com.

Since 2015, Allegion has hosted nearly 1,500 students, teachers and community officials across locations in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee,  Colorado,  Washington,  Illinois, Kansas and California. Typically, Allegion’s U.S. MFG Day events take place during October, which is national Manufacturing Month, and include in-person facility tours, employee panel discussions and visits with government officials. This year’s events, however, were shifted to virtual field trips using Microsoft Teams.

During the recorded virtual events, plant leaders share about Allegion’s local impact, and then students see video tours of eight Allegion manufacturing facilities, as well as hear from nearly 30 manufacturing employees on the future of manufacturing and what it’s like to work at Allegion. The Indianapolis event included recorded remarks from Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, U.S. Senator Mike Braun, State Rep. Robin Shackleford, Indiana Secretary of Career Connections & Talent Blair Milo and Indiana Chamber VP Brock Hesler. Allegion CEO Dave Petratis also joined students live to talk about his nearly 40 years of experience in the manufacturing industry.

What’s Dave’s advice for students? “Take the leap. You’ll learn aspects of the business and get exposure that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. With the right company, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. The sky is the limit,” Dave said.

In a WRTV-6 Hiring Hoosiers news segment, Allegion worker Mylisha Pickens talked about the benefits she is realizing in a sector she hadn’t grown up thinking about as a career option.

“When I was younger coming out of high school honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do, I never saw myself in manufacturing. But today I love it,” she said.

Mylisha started as a temp employee, was hired onto the team within six months and is now the second shift team leader for one of Allegion’s main lines.

“If you like working with your hands, if you like technology, if you want to be a part of change, be a part of the future, come to manufacturing,” she said. “Just because as so many things change, we work with robots. I have seen so many things, it is just an amazing opportunity. It would be great.”

Allegion operates two manufacturing facilities in Indianapolis, building Von Duprin and Falcon exit devices as well as Glynn-Johnson, Ives and Zero International door hardware. They’re known for inventing the emergency exit device, as well as all of the customization they can provide for those life-saving devices today. Allegion’s impact on the industrycan be seen in nearly every public building—be it a government facility, a grocery store, a restaurant, a movie theater, a place of worship, a university or otherwise.

Allegion produces more than 100,000 unique configurations in an average year at its Indianapolis Operations. On any given day, the company fulfills about 700 orders, a feat that requires a cross-trained and flexible workforce with competencies in stamping, CNC machining, powder-coating, plating, laser cutting and etching. Its main line has a state-of-the-art vision system with 3D work instructions that is so sophisticated it detects errors and stops the line if a device is not built exactly as ordered.

That’s not to say the plan is totally automated. Allegion believes the human element is still critical to manufacturing and complements technology.

“We’re nothing without our employees,” Cindy said. “We invest in recruitment, but even more in our people themselves, through internships, skilled trade apprenticeships, early career programs, tuition reimbursement opportunities and more. Every employee has a chance to literally change the future.”

Interested in working with Allegion? Watch the TechPoint Job Board or the company’s Careers page.