Ashley furnishes students with virtual experiences during manufacturing month

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A middle-school student learns about furniture fabrics during a virtual exercise in Ashley Furniture's manufacturing month program. (Ashley Furniture photo)

ARCADIA, Wis. (WKBT) — Nearly 2,000 middle school students who live near Ashley Furniture Industries Inc.’s plants in Wisconsin and several other states are getting virtual tours as part of the company’s celebration of October as National Manufacturing Month in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A student learns the Ashley ropes virtually. (Ashley Furniture photo)

The Arcadia-based international company normally hosts in-person events and tours to mark the month, but computers will be the key this year to show students career opportunities in Wisconsin, Mississippi, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Students are getting virtual opportunities for activities ranging from designing furniture to operating a machine. They also are learning about the importance of manufacturing and the economic benefits of the industry.
“We are passionate about inspiring future creators by exposing them to the incredible career pathways that modern manufacturing offers,” said Ashley president and CEO.
“Manufacturing is a rapidly advancing industry, and it needs our help to ensure the future jobs are not left unfilled,” he said.
Participating school districts in Wisconsin include Arcadia, Arcadia Holy Family, Blair-Taylor, Cochrane-Fountain City, Eleva-Strum, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, Independence, Independence SSPP and Whitehall.
Ashley, established in 1945 and now one of the largest manufacturers of home furnishings in the world, has developed several partnerships with K-12 and post-secondary schools over the past five years. The company has invested in STEM-based learning opportunities, scholarships, providing students with exposure to technical trades and career opportunities, instructor training and robotics programs.