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The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. has launched a Web site for its industrywide employee certification program and plans to release the results of a related job-analysis survey on the site in August. During April, the Washington-based trade association sent more than 4,000 surveys to machine operators and attendants at more than 400 U.S. manufacturing locations. The surveys, which identify tasks and knowledge levels necessary to perform specific jobs, were mailed to workers in four processing categories: injection molding, blow molding, extrusion and thermoforming. Participants included SPI and non-SPI members.

The survey results will set the tone for the program's direction by providing a blueprint for the certification exams, said Drew Fleming, SPI's director of industry work force development. The exams are expected to be available by May 1998, after a monthlong round of pilot testing.

Officials at each manufacturing site selected their top 10 operators and attendants to take the survey. The blind surveys were filled out over a two-week period in April and mailed to Chauncey Group International, an outside consulting group based in Princeton, N.J., that is helping to develop the tests. The group is a subsidiary of the Educational Testing Service.

The survey response rate was better than expected, according to Chauncey Group officials. More than half of the locations responded, and 47 percent of the surveys were returned, Fleming said.

The 2,000 returned surveys will be compiled through July. Results then will be made available to those companies expressing interest in the program and unveiled on SPI's new Web site at http://www.certifyme.org. In addition, results will be available to educators as a content framework for designing plastics training curriculum, Fleming said.

The Web site, which was expected to go online June 16, offers another communication tool on certification. The site features answers to frequently asked certification questions, a news group providing a forum for comments and questions, regularly updated reports and the latest news coverage.

The site also offers a guest book for Web visitors to register their electronic-mail addresses so they can receive periodic updates on certification developments. The site is linked to the association's Web site, http:// www.socplas.org.

Development of the certification tests will begin in September. With guidance from Chauncey, a group of about 60-80 leading industry workers selected by SPI will write the exams during intensive working sessions at sites around the country. Questions will be based on the survey results and follow industry certification standards.

About 500 people will participate in pilot testing, scheduled for March.

Anyone interested in participating in a test-development work group, conducting pilot testing or receiving the job-analysis survey results can contact Fleming at tel. (202) 974-5246 or (202) 974-5346, via e-mail at dfleming@socplas.org, or through the new certification Web site.

Fleming will discuss the above developments in a presentation titled ``Training for Plastics Processing: How to Improve Your Workers' Skills and Capabilities on the Production Floor,'' to be held Tuesday in a 1:30-5 p.m. session in Room S402AB.