WASHINGTON - The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. recently received grants to fund workplace training initiatives in Florida and Kentucky.
Florida awarded Washington-based SPI $250,000 to pick up the entire tab for training 300 industry workers, while Kentucky's government agreed to spend $42,000 to pay for half the training expenses for 120 workers. Both states are funding SPI's satellite-based Plastics Learning Network, and the classes will be used to prepare for the trade group's National Certification in Plastics exam.
PLN broadcasts interactive training courses at community colleges and plastics plants.
Last year, SPI participated in a Florida program where plastics companies received money from a pot used by all industries. Companies reported positive results from that trial, including better skills and worker loyalty and attitudes, said Gary Moore, SPI's director of work-force development.
This year's Florida program is money set aside specifically for plastics firms. South Carolina is the only other state to give money specifically to PLN thus far, Moore said.
Beyond those states, SPI also is working closely with Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Texas, he said. In Louisiana, SPI and one industry firm this fall will tap into worker training funds from taxes collected to pay for unemployment. SPI wants to expand that to get more companies involved, although Moore noted the money comes with a potentially significant caveat: Companies must agree to give workers raises when the training is complete.
This fall, SPI plans to target four large Midwestern states with significant plastics processing - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Moore said they have begun discussions in those states about what worker training funds are available.