Don’t tempt youth with cheap labor

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I read your article regarding the skills gap and the forum to offer workplace help today [“Forum to offer workforce help,” Jan. 7, Page 6].

While I applaud your efforts on creating a place to find skilled workers, I disagree that there is a “skills gap” in this country. There isn’t any incentive for youth of this country to go into manufacturing, especially plastics. Low wages, almost no chance for job promotions, and not very many plastic molders to work for in a specific area. If you are willing to move your family every time you get a job and work for wages less than the average valet or supermarket shelf stocker then this is a fine industry.

As a frame of reference, I will share that I started as a press operator in 1992, moved into the toolroom to clean molds in 1993, went to trade school and became a toolmaker in 1995, became a product development engineer in 2001, tooling engineer in 2004, senior project engineer in 2008, and now I am a project manager at a $60 million-a-year molder. I would try my hardest to dissuade anyone I know into going into machining, tooling, and plastics. I personally love what I do. I get up every day and enjoy going to work and find it very fulfilling. I plan on retiring from the plastics industry when I am old and can’t work anymore ... not when I turn 62.

Please be careful on what “dream” you are trying to sell youth for your cheap labor. Most have already learned from their parents and teachers that you have to be asleep to believe it.

Tom R.

(Last name withheld on request)