Exposing Students to Maryland Manufacturing through JA BizTown

Maryland MEP, in partnership with Junior Achievement of Central Maryland (JA), is working to collectively educate and inspire the youth of our communities who will become the next generation of manufacturing workers through JA BizTown.

Junior Achievement is a national organization dedicated to educating young people in how to succeed in a global economy. They take a hands-on approach to giving youth the knowledge and skills to make smart academic and economic choices.  

Junior Achievement’s BizTown program provides elementary and middle school students lessons and resources on financial literacy and work and career readiness. This program is a combination of an in-class curriculum in Maryland schools that ends with a culminating hands-on project in a simulated town.

The U.S. manufacturing industry is faced with a shortage of highly skilled individuals to fill the jobs that our country needs. In fact, by 2028, the U.S. will need to fill more than 4.5 million manufacturing jobs, in part because many Americans do not realize the incredible and rewarding career opportunities that modern manufacturing offers.  

In response to this, Maryland MEP, with support from partners and partners at Arnold Packaging, Gable, Independent Can, and Strategic Factory, created a “Make It In Maryland” manufacturing storefront within JA BizTown. This space gives us the ability to inform and shape thousands of students by exposing them to advanced technologies, demonstrate the career pathways available in manufacturing, and most importantly change the overall image of manufacturing. Through this space, students are introduced to manufacturing through additive, virtual reality and hands-on experiences help shape their image of manufacturing.

Within the “Make It In Maryland” BizTown storefront experience, students have the opportunity to take on various occupations such as CEO, CFO, Product Technician, Supply Chain Manager and Quality Control Associate. These occupations give students a multitude of roles and responsibilities from overseeing payroll, budget sheets, and inventory management to machine operation through 3D printing and Virtual Reality simulations.

During this school year alone, 49 schools have visited BizTown and more than 3,400 students have been exposed to manufacturing jobs. This exposure has shown a real impact on the students, resulting in 51% of students saying they have worked in the same job or career as their JA volunteer based on a 2020 JA alumni study from Ipsos.

“We are excited to partner with Junior Achievement and look forward to continue inspiring the next generation of manufacturers and educating thousands of students on the career opportunities and pathways that the Maryland manufacturing industry provides,” said Mike Kelleher, Executive Director at Maryland MEP.

If you would like to learn more about the JA BizTown and the “Make It In Maryland” storefront, please contact Danielle Moran at dmoran@mdmep.org.