The plastics industry faces many challenges in its search for highly skilled workers.
ResourceMFG, the leading manufacturing placement company, helps hiring managers in the business find these employees. Vice President Julie Maydew detailed some of the key issues in plastics hiring. The industry uses a variety of skills in its manufacturing units that emphasize processes and equipment setup used to make a product, Maydew said. Molding and extrusion cover a variety of products and in order to find skilled personnel, the recruits must be drafted from other plastics industries.
``With the exception of entry-level machine operators and secondary-operations staff, molding- and extruder-specific experience are required,'' she said. ``Couple that with the variety of raw materials, [and] the profile for the ideal candidate is often unique to the hiring company. The matches must be made with candidates that have comparable process and material familiarity and experience.''
Since globalization sent much of the U.S.'s molding and extrusion offshore, the specific skills required migrated to other process industries and adapted outside of plastics manufacturing. With fewer production facilities in America, the pool of prospective recruits has diminished significantly.
``Pressure from other process industries [primarily food, pharmaceutical, hydrocarbon, and chemical production] have taken the process technicians, extruder/molding setup operators and maintenance technicians away from the dwindling U.S. plastic producers,'' she said. ``The accelerated reduction of the factory that produces plastic products increases the competition with foreign manufacturers more pressing.''
All process industries employ maintenance mechanics and electricians with skilled personnel who can readily change the production equipment. The plastics industry has suffered as opportunities abound in the other segments.
Due to the placement segmentation, ResourceMFG is involved with all aspects of manufacturing and knows skilled employees who can be used in plastics. The relationships with other process industries are used to transition highly skilled employees into plastics process operations. Through special partnering tactics, the firm is able to provide evaluations that are specific to each company.
Globalization continues to impact the hiring processes of plastic manufacturing plants in North America. For these businesses it becomes essential to pursue lean concepts and Six Sigma tools to improve the producers' competitive advantage. The reduction of waste and defects in processes make these surviving companies more viable.
``The global economy and increased competitiveness have guided ResourceMFG to perform at higher levels in our screening, as we more clearly understand the importance of waste and defect elimination in clients' processes,'' Maydew said. ``It is often more than just a job filled, but it becomes a job filled with both the essential skill competencies as well as a global understanding about the delivered quality and schedule.''
Cutler is president and chief executive officer of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based TR Cutler, Inc., a manufacturing marketing firm. He is spokesman for ResourceMFG.