MEXICALI, MEXICO — Horacio Palma, plant manager of custom injection molder Andercraft de Mexico SA de CV, organized plastics processors last year in a pro bono program to educate young workers about materials, machines, processes and molds. Now, the Mexican government has embraced the concept and plans to fund two instructors for more plastics education in Mexicali. The fast-growing city shares two border crossings with Calexico, Calif.
"The maquiladoras come in here, but do not understand the need for training workers," Palma said in an interview at his Mexicali office, in conjunction with the Naftasho exhibition, held Feb. 10 in Calexico.
Palma, who has been a member of Mexicali's plastics industry for 15 years, believes training at a school is more cost effective than on-the-job training.
He persuaded others to participate in the project.
"I made a commitment with six companies," he said. "They are my partners, and we work together to make the school in Mexicali."
Volunteers from the partner companies started two instructional series last year in February and September. A third series is running Feb. 7 to May 24.
So far, 28 of 35 sponsored workers have completed the 180-hour program and received official certificates.
The expanded program will reach beyond the existing labor force for students and use industry-supplied equipment.
Cardinal Health Inc.'s Allegiance unit has donated a 90-ton Netstal injection molding press, Palma said. Resin suppliers have assisted — GE Plastics with a speaker from its Los Angeles office and Bayer Corp. with processing materials.
Palma and others lobbied the federal government for months and finally succeeded. The school will hire two instructors for the program, which will aim to train 75 people a year. One program will focus on general education, another on technical subjects.
Palma said plastics processors elsewhere in Mexico have expressed interest in the program.