KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL-TV) – The State of Tennessee is celebrating Manufacturing Week and trying to raise awareness about opportunities in the manufacturing fields.

This week is designed to encourage students to pursue educational paths needed for careers in the state’s growing manufacturing sector.

“Manufacturing is really important in the state of Tennessee, in fact, one out of every eight people in Tennessee work in manufacturing. The bad news is, one out of four of those people that work in manufacturing are going to retire in the next 10 years.”, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd said, “So we’ve got to let kids know that there are some great jobs available to them in manufacturing. These aren’t the kind of jobs that a lot of them think about as being dirty and dangerous. Today’s manufacturing jobs are high quality, high paying and in high demand.”

This week is also trying to change the image of what many students perceive the types of manufacturing jobs are out there in the area and the state.

“Most young people just have no idea of what manufacturing is about. I’ll ask them, are you interested in manufacturing, usually maybe one or two hands out of 30 will go up. By the time that they actually go by and visit a factory and learn something about what manufacturing is about, all the hands go up.”, Boyd said, “So just letting them know what great jobs these are is so important to not only their future, but the future of our state.”

Boyd was in town for two events hosted by Eastman Chemical Company and visited the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing as well as Dobyns-Bennett High School. He visited with students at Dobyns-Bennett who were getting an introduction to some of the manufacturing companies in the area.

“The students have been overwhelmingly surprised that manufacturing is such great jobs and I think now are very enthusiastic that this could be a career path for them. These are not just high demand jobs, but they are high paying jobs. The challenge, however, is they are not unskilled jobs. You have to go to a technical college or a community college to get the certificates or the associates degrees you need in mechatronics or in welding or some of those other technical skills.”, Boyd said, “But the good news is, in the state of Tennessee, we have something called the Tennessee Promise, so they can all go free of charge, matched with a mentor.”

More than 1,000 students turnout out for the event, many say that it opened their eyes to what opportunities are out there in manufacturing and that these jobs are certainly nothing like the manufacturing jobs of the past.

“It was a great experience to learn and to think outside the box.”, Sophomore Scotty Chadwell said, “It’s not that way anymore, with the new inventions like 3-D printing or conveyor belts with machines, all that sort of stuff. It just makes everything so much easier however, at the same time, it could be negative but I believe to think of it in a positive way.”

“It’s automated, there is a lot of robotics involved, it’s very clean work, very minimal human activity.”, Sophomore Kaitlyn Ireson said, “I’ve learned how much technology has advanced, especially with the drones and the 3-D printing and especially the virtual reality welding simulator. I’ve learned how many jobs are available in the manufacturing world right now, he said 40,000 in east Tennessee alone.”

Students were also taking advantage of the opportunity to conduct a mock interview and learn other things about how to interview for a job.

“There are a lot of kids that aren’t going to be able to have that opportunity before they get out in the real world and just having a mock interview, or a mock whatever you want to call it, it’s amazing because we get that opportunity before we get out in the real world so we don’t mess it up.”, Ireson said.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.