The Plastics Learning Network's satellite-based worker-training program will add its first Western and Midwestern downlink sites at plants this fall.
Injection molder Jatco Inc. in Union City, Calif., compounder Ferro Corp.'s plant in Stryker, Ohio, and equipment maker Van Dorn Demag Corp. of Strongsville, Ohio, are installing satellite-downlink equipment to receive PLN courses on injection molding and extrusion beginning in late September.
Initial participants Wellman Inc. in Johnsonville, S.C., and Precise Technology Inc. in St. Petersburg, Fla., will continue with the program. Pilot classes began in early 2000.
Regional offices of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. play key roles in marketing the program. SPI identifies candidates with the greatest potential for participation, said Gary Moore, director of the work-force development program for Washington-based SPI.
The network's spring sessions had 350 students, mostly in Florida, with others in Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia and New Hampshire. Of those enrolled, 266 sat for SPI's National Certification for Plastics examination, according to Barbara Darby, PLN director since January. She operates from the SPI Southern Region office in Greenville, S.C.
The program charges $505 for an SPI member's employee to take a course. SPI provides a per-student payment to educational downlink sites. SPI has won state funding in Florida and Kentucky to help pay for the training, and the trade group is seeking state funding elsewhere. SPI spent about $400,000 on work-force development programs in excess of the programs' income for the fiscal year ended May 31, Moore said.
``Overall, we expect to break even in terms of costs for work-force development programs,'' Moore said. ``SPI has invested heavily over five years.''
SPI seeks more downlinks, particularly in the West and Midwest, said Kelvin Mims, SPI work-force development manager.
The spring program had connections to the two firms and 18 other sites including community colleges, technical schools, two middle schools and a high school. As many as 40 sites may participate this fall, according to Carolyn Holderman, a director at South Carolina Educational Television in Columbia, S.C. A Michigan plastics processor may become the sixth company site, Holderman said.
In a fall pilot effort, Paulson Training Programs Inc. of Chester, Conn., will offer a 12-hour advanced troubleshooting course through PLN. SPI is working toward spring courses for set-up technicians in injection molding and extrusion and establishing ``a next level of skills beyond basic certification,'' Moore said.