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High school students looking for career-level jobs got a clear message on Wednesday night, Nov. 2: “There are good jobs out there for the skilled trades.” That’s the message Nathan McMichael was delivering to dozens of students at the first Skilled Trades Exploration Night at the Arconic Learning Center, 4900 State St., Bettendorf. The first-time event, hosted by Arconic, brought together 100 Quad Cities students and their parents to learn about skilled trades, such as machinists, mechanics, electricians, roll grinders and many other jobs. Mr. McMichael, a maintenance mechanic at Arconic, was one of about 40 Arconic workers at the event to give students a glimpse of their trades and tell them about the benefits of the work. He said he was happy with the event because he hopes it will help bring in a new generation of workers to the trades. “Right now the parents are asking all the questions about the trades. The kids are just listening,” he said during a short break in the action on Wednesday. In addition to fielding questions from parents, Mr. McMichael had area students talk to other young people who are in skilled trades apprenticeship programs to get their views on the trades. Providing information was at the heart of Wednesday’s Exploration Night, said Marguerite Tomlin, an internal communications specialist with Arconic. She added this is the first time the company has hosted the skilled trades night, but it hopes to host such events twice a year in the future. “A lot of kids don’t know what they want to do. … We show them they can learn a trade, get a good-paying job and not go into debt” with college loans,” Ms. Tomlin said. Other workers and Arconic officials at the Exploration Night said that another big goal of the event is to help attract younger people to fields that are in dire need of workers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 8 million skilled-labor jobs were lost from the labor force during the pandemic. Around half have been filled, but about 4 million vacancies remain across the country in industries responsible for most transportation, construction and mechanical. That message of available jobs got through to at least some of the students on Wednesday. Griffin Koehn, 17, of McCausland, Iowa, said he liked what he heard and found useful information. “I’m here looking for a way to get my foot in the door. … The guys here have been great,” he added. His mother, Erin Koehn, said she also liked the information that was presented on Wednesday night. “We’re here looking for alternatives to college,” she added. Exploration Night had students going to three rooms to learn about various trades. In the main gym room on the first floor of Arconic Learning Center workers focused on truck repair, roll grinders and machinists. Room 203 was for electricians. Room 100 was for general mechanics. In the gym area, students and their parents looked over equipment and tool displays, and computer simulations of mechanical work. There were also video presentations and posters advertising jobs in metallurgical engineering, mechanical engineering and many other fields. In room 100, several machinists spent two hours telling students the benefits and responsibilities of their trade. “We just want to shed some light on what we do,” said Paul Meier of Bettendorf, a general mechanic at Arconic. “It’s all about getting a younger generation into the trades.” Arconic worker Ryan Liebbe of LeClaire said one of his goals was to let young people know there are jobs for them, even if they don’t want to go to college. “We really need people who know how to fix all those machines,” he added.