Some of the biggest questions facing the plastics industry right now are what the next generation of the workforce will be like, and where they will come from.
The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and Tooling-U-SME are taking a crack at answering at least some of those questions with the introduction of a new online training program aimed at closing the manufacturing skills gap in the plastics industry and at helping employees build skills on their own and in tandem with existing workforce development programs.
The joint effort, dubbed PlasticsU, offers plastics industry-tailored training with a customized selection of more than 400 courses and programs from introductory to advanced levels, including interpreting blueprints, creating a milling program, principles of injection molding, measuring system analysis, rigging inspection and safety and machine-specific controls courses.
SPI President and CEO William Carteaux said the need for active approach to workforce development to keep the plastics industry growing spurred the partnership.
“Our industry has some of the best and brightest workers, operating top-of-the-line equipment and technology,” Carteaux said. “Unfortunately, many of the technological advancements made recently are being held back by a growing manufacturing skills gap, which is why SPI partnered with Tooling U-SME to launch PlasticsU.”
A recent study by the Cleveland-based online manufacturing training company, a division of SME, says that even though continuous improvement and workforce training and development are keys in increasing a company's growth and profitability, they are frequently back-burner concerns. Of companies surveyed by SME, 39 percent reported spending only eight to 20 hours per year on individual employee training — about 40 minutes per week.
“By instituting a training program, companies can ensure they remain competitive today and into the future,” said Jeannine Kunz, managing director of workforce and education at SME. “Creating a well-trained workforce can help improve quality, cycle time, communications, reliability and safety, while reducing costs and downtime/rework.”
For information on PlasticsU, visit http://www.toolingu.com/spi/