Toolmakers need skilled workforce

By Don Loepp
Editor

Published: October 4, 2013 2:51 pm ET
Updated: October 4, 2013 3:15 pm ET

Image By: Rich Williams

Related to this story

Topics Molds/Tooling, Education & Training, Workforce

The North American tooling sector is looking both strong and lean these days. That's good news. Mold makers were rocked during the Great Recession, especially those that relied on the automotive industry. And that's a huge market for North American toolmakers — 89 of the 112 companies in our Oct. 7 ranking make automotive tools.

There was some consolidation in 2009, and then a rapid recovery. According to a soon-to-be-released study from consulting group Harbour Results Inc., the tooling sector has been growing rapidly for the past three years, and now capacity is starting to get tight.

Laurie Harbour, the firm's president and CEO, says the next steps for tooling firms will be critical.

"There's no doubt that the pressure is still there on tool suppliers to continue to reduce lead time and price," she told PN's Rhoda Miel.

The plastics industry knows how to deal with pressure to keep costs down — make investments that improve efficiency. Successful toolmakers will invest in automation to help them compete globally.

And let's not forget about the human element — skilled workers. Shops can have all the best equipment in the world, but if they don't have trained employees they're dead in the water.

Mold makers have been talking about a shortage of skilled workers for decades. But the situation is just getting worse.

Tooling company owners shouldn't expect someone to solve that problem for them. The labor shortage is a cultural problem. Parents aren't pushing bright children into the manufacturing trades these days. The consensus is that there's no future there. And who can blame them, with stories of manufacturing plant shutdowns and stiff competition from China so fresh in their minds?

But the truth is that North American manufacturing is globally competitive. And skilled labor is a critically important part of the equation. Toolmakers, more than most manufacturers, need to take an active role in training the next generation of manufacturing workers.

But remember, it all starts with changing public attitudes about manufacturing. That will go a long way toward helping companies recruit — and retain — bright workers.

Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of "The Plastics Blog."


Comments

Toolmakers need skilled workforce

By Don Loepp
Editor

Published: October 4, 2013 2:51 pm ET
Updated: October 4, 2013 3:15 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Need for skilled workers is unchanged, but method of finding them has

November 21, 2014 6:00 am ET

It's in the news nearly every day now: “How can manufacturing solve the skilled worker shortage? We need to get young people interested in...    More

Image

Netstal, Electra Form team up for PET preform partnership

November 20, 2014 3:15 pm ET

The Netstal division of Krauss-Maffei Corp. is teaming up with Electra Form Industries in a partnership to offer PET preform machines and molds as a...    More

Image

From the minds of the next generation

November 19, 2014 12:04 pm ET

As Plastics News marks its 25th anniversary, we talk to young people who are are 25 years old or younger about what drew them to the plastics...    More

Image

Illinois mold maker adds machinery, renovates to improve work flow

November 18, 2014 1:23 pm ET

Injection mold maker Industrial Molds Inc. is adding $1.7 million in new machinery, the company has announced.    More

Image

Zahoransky system squeezes more production time out of molds

November 17, 2014 6:00 am ET

Freiburg, Germany-based mold and automation systems maker Zahoransky Formenbau GmbH has developed a new technology which allows for assembling and coo...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events