Valley manufacturing company creates program to draw teens

In the age of high-definition video games, social media and cellphones, the high demand for manufacturing workers in Phoenix due to the city's industry increase over the last 16 months.

This week, middle schoolers from the Balsz Elementary School District are learning that manufacturing can be fun.

"We don't have enough people to turn the crank... that's a shortage that's been around for years and it's escalating right now," Dante Fierros said. "There's over six million jobs that aren't being filled in manufacturing."

The City of Phoenix and one manufacturing company behind it all says the academy is an excellent opportunity for hands-on learning.

"This is really addressing the problem at the grassroots, talking to students who will eventually go onto high school or community college to learn a skill and open their eyes to the potentials of other avenues in employment," Fierros said.

Students say they actually learned a lot from putting down the cellphones and using tools, including robots and manufacturing products was actually "fun."

"I didn't know I was really good with doing stuff with my hands," Briseida Mayagoitia said. "I usually just do stuff with computers, but now that I've tried this stuff, I realized I can really do stuff with my hands."

This kind of early exposure, teachers say, helps to guide students towards being the future of the manufacturing industry.