The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. has launched a Web site for its industrywide employee certification program and plans to release the results of a related job-analysis survey on the site in early fall.
During April, the Washington-based trade association sent more than 4,000 surveys to machine operators and attendants at more than 400 U.S. manufacturing locations. The surveys, which identify tasks and knowledge levels necessary to perform specific jobs, were mailed to workers in four processing categories: injection molding, blow molding, extrusion and thermoforming. Participants included both SPI and non-SPI members.
The survey results will set the tone for the program's direction by providing a blueprint for the certification exams, said Drew Fleming, SPI's director of industry work force development. The exams are expected to be available by May 1998, after a month-long round of pilot testing.
``In the survey results, we're eager to see the relative importance of various tasks and knowledge requirements across different process areas,'' Fleming said. ``This is so critical to certification.''
Officials at each manufacturing site selected their top 10 operators and attendants to take the survey. The blind surveys were filled out during a two-week period in April and mailed to Chauncey Group International, an outside consulting firm based in Princeton, N.J., that is helping to develop the tests. The company is a subsidiary of the Educational Testing Service.
The survey response rate was better than expected, according to Chauncey Group. More than half the locations responded, and 47 percent of the surveys were returned, Fleming said.
The 2,000 returned surveys will be compiled through July. Results then will be made available to those companies expressing interest in the program and unveiled on SPI's new Web site at http://www.certifyme.org. In addition, results will be available to educators as a content framework for designing plastics training curricula, Fleming said.
The Web site, which went online June 16, offers another communication tool about certification. The site features answers to frequently asked questions, a news group providing a forum for comments and questions, regularly updated reports and the latest news coverage.
The site also offers a guest book for Web visitors to register their electronic-mail addresses so they can receive periodic updates on certification developments. The site is linked to the association's Web site, http://www. socplas.org.
Development of the certification tests will begin in September. With guidance from Chauncey Group, a group of about 60-80 leading industry workers selected by SPI will write the exams during intensive working sessions at sites around the country. Questions will be based on the survey results and follow certification industry standards.
After the exams are drafted, the Chauncey Group will edit the tests for fairness and to ensure an accurate representation of the skill standards.
The test-development group will include operators in the four process areas and also could involve supervisors, technicians, trainers and others who have considerable job knowledge.
About 500 people will participate in pilot testing, scheduled for March.
Anyone interested in participating in a test-development work group, conducting pilot testing or receiving the job-analysis survey results can contact Fleming at tel. (202) 974-5246 or (202) 974-5346, via e-mail at [email protected], or through the new certification Web site.