The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. wants to expand its satellite-based training efforts significantly in 2002.
The trade group is negotiating with several state governments to set aside money to help companies send workers to SPI training programs, including the Plastics Learning Network. PLN is a series of injection and extrusion courses beamed by satellite to about 50 spots around the country.
In the fall, SPI also hopes to launch its next level of certification courses, this time aimed at technicians. And SPI will use PLN to provide a safety seminar Jan. 17 on new record-keeping rules from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as SPI considers using the satellite system to offer a series of safety-related programs.
South Carolina has agreed to set aside at least $20,000 in enterprise zone funding for training for about eight plastics processing companies. And SPI officials said they are negotiating with New York, Louisiana and South Carolina to designate funds for plastics training programs similar to what Florida did last year, said Gary Moore, director of work-force development with Washington-based SPI.
In the meantime, SPI is working with those states to make it easier for individual companies to apply for grant money from generic state training programs, as it did in Michigan, Moore said.
SPI officials consider the Florida program a model because it is a customized program for plastics.
The trade association also is negotiating with North Carolina state officials and has secured specific funding for plastics training from local officials in San Bernardino County, Calif., Moore said.
``These things just don't work as fast as I would hope,'' Moore said.
Beyond negotiating with states, SPI is looking to expand its PLN and training efforts. It wants to add training and certification for technician-level workers. Thus far, SPI has focused on machine operators, he said.
The goal is to launch the program as early as this fall for injection molders and possibly extruders. Blow molding and thermoforming would follow, he said.
An unidentified SPI business unit has offered to pay for some of the initial development, Moore said. The full technician-level program is estimated to cost $200,000 over two years, he said.
``How we do it and all that stuff is being worked out as we speak,'' Moore said.
SPI plans to start using the satellite network for safety programs, offering the daylong seminar on record keeping Jan. 17 and a program on OSHA's new initiative to reduce amputations Feb. 14.
SPI is hoping the increased interest in the PLN will let the program become financially self-sufficient in 2002, Moore said. The program trained 500 people in 2001, compared with 100 in 2000, its first year.
The effort needs 1,000 participants to pay for both operating and program development, Moore said. In 2001, the effort covered its operating costs, he said.
Running SPI's entire range of work-force development programs cost $400,000 more last year than SPI took in from the offerings. In this fiscal year, SPI hopes to break even with the work-force programs, Moore said.