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The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Washington still needs many blow molder, extruder and thermoformer companies to commit by March 31 to participate in a job-analysis survey for its industrywide worker certification program.

SPI is looking for 600 thermoplastics processors nationwide to agree to provide up to 10 workers each to take the survey, which should take no more than one hour to complete. The survey's objective is to identify and rank in order of importance the tasks performed by machine operators and the knowledge needed to complete those tasks.

SPI has enough injection molding companies signed up, but is well short of its goal of 150 companies each for the above three processing categories. As of March 18, SPI had commitments from 180 injection molders, 25 blow molders, 67 extruders and 55 thermoformers, according to Drew Fleming, SPI's director of industry work force development.

He said a broader cross-section is needed to ensure that the survey's results are representative of the industry.

SPI already has extended its previously announced deadline of March 15, and cannot accept new participants beyond March 31.

Fleming said the project's timeline now looks like this:

August 1997 — Complete the job analysis and develop a test plan;

March 1998 — Finish writing the exam and do pilot testing;

April 1998 — Evaluate the pilot test results and determine scoring standards;

May 1998 — Make the test available to the public.

The project has cleared its initial funding hurdles, with pledges of more than $600,000 from injection molders and their suppliers, which will be applied toward developing machine-operator and process-technician exams for that segment.

This is in addition to the $373,000 that SPI itself has pledged to help fund operator-level certification for all process segments.

SPI said that this spring it intends to initiate fund-raising efforts within the blow molding, extrusion and thermoforming segments, to pay for their share of the operator-level certification development.

It can cost as much as $700,000 to develop and market a certification test for each job level that applies to all the processes, Fleming said in a recent telephone interview.

The three noninjection process segments have yet to address the question of certifying additional job categories, pending their ability to raise the necessary funds.

Interested parties should contact Fleming at tel. (202) 974-5246 or (202) 974-5346, or via e-mail at dfleming@socplas.org.