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

Top talent trends of 2015 taking shape

January 22, 2015 3:07 pm ET

What will be the top talent trends in the plastics workplace in 2015?    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

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

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

More Events