Bethel, Vt.-based injection molder GW Plastics is doing something concrete about the skilled labor shortage – it's raising awareness among local high school students about career opportunities in advanced manufacturing.
Last week the company celebrated the graduation of its second "School of Tech" class. The semester-long program uses GW employees, working with high school teachers, to instruct students on all things manufacturing, including polymer science, product design, mold building, injection molding, automation, quality assurance and general business skills.
“It is very difficult to find a high school shop class that provides relevant training in our industry,” says Cathy Tempesta, GW Plastics director of human resources. “There are limited ways for students to become exposed to the world of manufacturing, so we launched our own ‘school' in order to make manufacturing attractive again.”
Each semester includes a visit to Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, Vt., where students can see GW Plastics' health-care products in use.
The program includes actual interaction with advanced machine tools and molding machines. This semester the program added a new twist – the students also designed and manufactured their own product: cell phone holders that are now being sold at their school.
I had some experience doing something like this when I was in middle school, but that was in the 1970s, when middle schools still had shop classes. I think you'll find that most don't these days.
And in our case, we made a very 1970s product: incense burners. I know, what a cliche.