FITCHBURG, MASS.—The Berkshire Plastics Network is placing a high priority on finding new workers to keep local industry growing.
About 11/2 years ago, the Pittsfield, Mass.-based group commissioned an independent report on the region's needs. The group discovered an urgent requirement for trained workers.
``The most revealing thing was that, based on past growth, we would need to add 400 people by the year 2000,'' said President Donald Rochelo. ``At that time, we had about 2,000 employees [in member companies]. It was well-understood that we were not going to meet that growth.
``We had to change our marketing approach,'' he said. ``In the past, the aim was to acquire new customers, but now we have to change the focus to embrace education and to ensure that we have a work force for the future.''
Rochelo also is president of Apex Engineering Inc. in Pittsfield.
To accomplish its task, members sit on as many advisory boards in Berkshire County as they can, according to Rochelo. The companies also market themselves at school boards and job fairs, and sponsor the National Plastics Center and Museum PlastiVan at local schools.
``The only way is to continually look for ways to get more people into the industry,'' he noted.
Rochelo said that getting women involved is one way, while another is to retrain displaced workers. He noted that it is important not to overlook any potential workers.
``Training is the ultimate answer,'' he said.
The Berkshire Plastics Network has 43 principal members in Berkshire County, and 85 associate members that supply goods and services to principal members.