Give the people what they want. It's a simple concept that sometimes seems so very difficult to execute. Just ask owners and managers of injection molding companies that for years have sought a high-quality, stan-dardized training certification program for their shop-floor operatives. And yet, to date, no such program exists in North America.
The Society of Plastics Engineers, which prides itself on being the educational arm of the plastics industry, has flailed about on this issue for some time, with little to show for it to date. It seems that the differing interests within SPE - especially the academics and the more grass-roots industrialists - cannot agree on a format or approach acceptable to all camps. As a result, molders still have no useful certification program available to them.
Fortunately, it appears a unit of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. is about to change all that. SPI's Molders and Moldmakers Division will hold its annual meeting Feb. 22-25 in Phoenix, and its published agenda reveals the group finally intends to lift the curtain on SPI's plan for certifying injection molding employees. SPI is holding the plan's details close to its vest prior to the meeting, but we understand this new initiative to be ambitious, aggressive and well-advanced.
SPI is working with well-known textbook publisher McGraw-Hill Inc. on the content of the plan, which indicates the trade group is committed to spending what is necessary to develop a quality program. And such professional advice is important when designing test questions for such training, since there are sensitive legal issues (e.g. whether the language or types of questions could be deemed to be discriminatory) that must be taken into account.
SPI also apparently believes that its planned program holds promise not only for injection molders, but for other plastics-and even nonplastics-manufacturing sectors.
It is encouraging that somebody finally has taken the initiative to create such a certification plan. It's even encouraging that they apparently also have the resolve to see it through to completion. We'll learn more in Phoenix in three weeks.
Let's also hope, meanwhile, that SPI and SPE are communicating about their objectives and progress, to avoid duplication of effort. The industry doesn't need multiple certification programs. But it badly needs one good one.