INDIANAPOLIS — The American Mold Builders Association is confronting the much-publicized manufacturing skills gap by employing a variety of outreach and education efforts.
Several initiatives were discussed at AMBA's national convention in May in Indianapolis.
Starting in July, AMBA members will be able to post job openings to a special section of the association's website, Managing Director Kym Conis said. Individuals interested in working in the mold making industry will be able to upload a resume to AMBA.org for those companies to view.
AMBA also is developing educational tools and materials for mold makers, expected to be available through the website sometime this year, Conis said. Articles and videos will be made available to help association members reach out to schools and potential applicants about the mold making industry. The group also is working on creating a national database of schools, technical programs and other potential contacts for outreach.
Many of AMBA's efforts are focused on empowering the association's local and regional chapters to build on their already strong regional outreach, Conis said.
“National really wants to be able to back the strategies and efforts of our chapters,” she said.
A culmination of two years of development, the association's national tool making certification program will launch July 1, AMBA announced. The certification includes lists of skills for different areas of expertise, and assessment tests for three levels: basic skills, master mold maker and master CNC machinist. Companies can use the materials to evaluate current employees and potential hires, and to develop apprenticeship programs, Conis said.
AMBA also spotlighted a CNC machinist training program at Vincennes University in Vincennes, Ind., which Conis called “an incredibly strong program.”
CNC Machinist NOW is an accelerated 16-week program for veterans and other adult learners, graduating three classes of 12 students per year. Providing entry-level CNC machinist skills, the program costs $8,000 plus $1,500 for tools, which is often covered by GI Bill benefits or other scholarships, Doug Bowman, director of Vincennes University's Haas Technical Education Center, said. Scholarships for housing also are available.
The program's placement rate is around 95 percent, with most graduates staying within the Midwest, Bowman said. Roughly half of candidates coming into the program are “sponsored” by a company; instead of a financial sponsorship, companies pledge to hire the candidate upon graduation.
“Companies really are having trouble finding people with these skills, so it's really not to difficult to place the graduates of this program,” Bowman said.
The success at Vincennes has inspired a similar program in Lebanon, Ind., slated to launch in January, Bowman said, which will double training capacity. The Lebanon program also will have industrial maintenance and metrology programs.
Despite the program's accelerated nature, Bowman frames the training in terms of a graduate's future career growth.
“It's not just about finding someone a job as an operator; it's giving them a foundation for a career,” Bowman said.