Finding trained employees for the more than 30 plastics processing companies in El Paso, Texas, is the design of Workforce 2000, a training center owned and operated by Gail Darling Temporaries Inc. Cindy Cieslak, director of the center, said that Gail Darling Temporaries provides hundreds of temporary workers to the fast-growing plastics industry in El Paso. But the agency realized that it could not send in machine operators who had never seen an injection molding press.
``We have a lot of people apply for positions who've had fast-food experience, but no manufacturing background,'' Cieslak said. ``We can't put people in positions where they'll fail.''
In August 1994, the company obtained the plastics processing training tapes from Paulson Training Programs Inc., and brought in an instructor to teach a four-hour course to Darling's workers before sending them on assignments.
But, with the demand for skilled workers from its customers now outpacing supply, Darling realized it would have to expand its training program. In June, Darling opened Workforce 2000, a training facility dedicated to preparing workers for assignments in the plastics industry.
The plastics industry is big in El Paso. According to reports from the Texas Employment Commission and the University of Texas at El Paso, the plastics industry has had an estimated $2 billion impact on El Paso's economy. With more than 30 plastics manufacturing companies employing about 3,000, more than $520 million in annual sales were realized by the industry in the past three years.
Workforce 2000 has trained more than 1,000 people for light industrial positions such as injection molding machine operators, quality-control inspectors and supervisors.
``When companies begin looking at El Paso as a potential site for relocation and development, we need to make sure we can provide them with the kinds of employees they'll need and expect,'' said Gail Darling, the firm's chief executive.
Workforce 2000 offers training programs that range from an 11-hour, introductory course to a weeklong, 40-hour course designed for New Horizons, a local training firm, which received a $450,000 Department of Labor grant to train displaced workers.
The latter course covers safety issues, machine operations, quality issues such as how to recognize a defective part, auxiliary equipment operation. It also offers eight hours of practical hands-on experience with two injection molding presses at the center.
Local custom injection molder and mold maker Foster Mold Inc. donated a 70-ton molding press to the center, and Nissei America Corp. donated a new 80-ton press in November. Cieslak credits Foster Mold and its president, Ted Edmonds, with helping Workforce 2000 get started. Two of Foster's employees, production supervisor Bob Milne and his assistant, Daniel Esquivel, teach the technical classes at Workforce 2000.
Cieslak teaches a four-hour course on work ethics, how to dress for manufacturing, and how profits are affected when an operator makes bad parts.
Workers who complete the injection molding class are usually placed at a full-time job within three to five days, Cieslak said.