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Fourth annual MTI Expo showcases manufacturing, trades and industry careers

Samuel Zarazua, a senior at McHenry High School - West Campus, is looking for a career in carpentry, framing or plumbing. So he went to the school district’s Manufacturing, Trades and Industry career expo with a plan to meet as many business leaders as he could. 

Zarazua was one of hundreds of students and families to attend the Sept. 26 event at McHenry High School - East Campus that featured more than 50 McHenry County businesses and organizations. And, like other students, Zarazua left with information on apprenticeship and training programs, and employment information from a variety of organizations.

“It’s really good,” he said of the expo, where he collected information on several programs, including the ICATT apprenticeship program and Kenmode, a metal stamping company in Algonquin. “It’s convenient.”

McHenry High School District 156 teachers and staff said the event is meant to give students a chance to make connections in manufacturing, trades and industry career fields. “There are some good connections made,” said Dan Rohman, McHenry High School applied technology and construction technology instructor.

Not only is the expo great exposure for interested students but it can help business leaders flli a need for skilled and educated workers.

According to a Feb. 20, 2019 article in, a coalition of industry organization leaders met in Miami, Fla. to talk about ways to address the estimated 2 million shortage of skilled trades workers expected in manufacturing by 2025. Construction industry leaders are also pointing to a shortage of skilled tradespeople, including in the Chicago area, according to an August WGN-TV article.

Dr. Bradford Hubbard, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Lake Villa-based Community High School District 117, came to the McHenry event because there is interest in having a similar event for their students and families.

“We continue to hear about so many jobs that are open and not enough people to fill them,” he said. 

The McHenry event is also a showcase for education and training for students, with high school computer science, engineering, construction and other work-training programs on display. Seniors also had the opportunity to apply for $1,000 post-secondary tech scholarships sponsored by the McHenry Sunrise Rotary Club.