Almost 60 percent of employees in the plastics industry are either actively seeking a job, plan to do so or could be persuaded to change job, according to the second annual hiring trends and salary survey released Monday by PlasticsJOBS by Gros Executive Search (Booth E11001) of Brentwood, Tenn.
``I was somewhat surprised by the number of people on the job market,'' said President Dennis Gros. ``What that tells me is that people have embraced the idea of a mobile career because of all the turmoil in the industry the past six years and that they want to take charge of their own career, based on their abilities, their knowledge and their track record.''
The willingness of employees to move around meshes with the attitude today among employers and recruiters who no longer view rapid job movement as a negative. ``In the past, they wouldn't talk to someone who had moved around in the last six to eight years.''
Gros said the survey should serve as ``a wake-up call to plastics industry employers not to be complacent in their retention efforts.'' He said employees want to know ``where they fit in and how they contribute to overall direction. They want to know the company is going somewhere and that they are an important contributing factor toward the company's goals.''
In addition, the survey — co-sponsored by the Indianapolis-based Mid-America Plastics Partners (Booth N4234) trade group - discovered a wide disparity between pay expectations of employees and managers. The survey found that 30 percent of employees expect raises in excess of four percent but that only one in four employers expect to raise pay by that amount.
The disparity among younger workers was even wider. ``The expectation of young people (aged 21-34) are a couple of points above the raise plans of the company manager. These managers need to know that this group of employees has those expectations,'' Gros said.
Gros said the greatest area of job shortages was for nondegreed process engineers, mold technicians, field service technicians, and experienced artisans and craftsmen in plastics. ``We are not training them and, as a society and an industry, we de-emphasize the importance of these jobs.''
In addition, he said such workers often are difficult to retain, as they are willing to switch occupations as long as they retain the same salary level and are less inclined to move from the areas they live. ``They tell themselves I can shape plastics, but I can go down the street to the metal bender and do that just as easily,'' Gros said.
He also said the industry has had difficulty attracting college graduates for the past 15 years and that the industry hopes to make some inroads into that with a Student Summit at NPE on Friday. For a fee of $500 - unless they have pre-registered - companies will have the opportunity to conduct 10-minute interviews and collect resumes from soon-to-be college graduates.
The survey also found that almost half the companies, 49 percent, expected to increase their workforce this year and that companies with less than 100 employees are the most inclined to do that. Only 11 percent of employers expect to reduce their workforce. In addition, the survey found that the percent of employees working more than 50 hours per week increased with each age category. Only 15 percent of employees aged 21-34 expected to work those hours, while 29 percent of those between 59 and 64 said they expected to work weeks of 50 hours or more.