Students Sign for Careers, Not College

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos participated in Butler Tech’s Manufacturing Recognition and Signing Day, when 39 students signed commitment letters to work in manufacturing jobs at Greater Cincinnati companies.  


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Most of us are familiar with National Signing Day when high school seniors can sign a binding letter of intent for a collegiate sport. But how about a Manufacturing Recognition and Signing Day?

Butler Tech, one of the largest career technical schools in Ohio, located just north of Cincinnati, held such a ceremony for the first time at its main campus last Friday, April 12, for 39 students signing a commitment to work for local industries upon graduating from their high school program. The students are accepting jobs in the precision machining, welding and manufacturing industries.

Nate Ruhenkamp, one of the representatives from 28 Greater Cincinnati companies who participated in the ceremony, was touched and impressed by the event. 

“This event blew me away. It was about showing what happens when we give students opportunities to choose career paths that fit their personalities and interests,” says Mr. Ruhenkamp, director of sales and marketing at Ashley Ward Inc. “Not everyone is made for college, and this event proved that those that don’t attend secondary education can be just as successful and accomplished, and should be celebrated for their decision.” 

He says hopefully this Signing Day will open the eyes of many younger students and their parents and encourage them to entertain the idea of careers in manufacturing that are fun and rewarding. “If we can educate and recruit more young people to fill these programs, we can feel more comfortable about the future of our businesses and economy,” he says.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos joined the students, their parents, company reps and instructors at the ceremony as she delivered remarks and congratulated the students. “You’ve made your families and all of us very proud, and your achievements go far beyond a fancy diploma,” Secretary DeVos said.

Following the ceremony, the secretary toured a manufacturing lab and interacted with students and local industry partners regarding career technical education and the opportunities provided through Butler Tech.

“To see the students light up like they did, you could tell that this was the highlight of their year,” Mr. Ruhenkamp says. “They were all smiling from ear to ear. I saw one mom crying while hugging her son as she told him how proud she was of his hard work.”