One mold maker exhibiting at NPE2018 can talk as much about attracting young people to the trade as it can its latest tooling programs: Unique Tool & Gauge Inc. of Windsor, Ontario.
The company has started a new one-year structured training program, working with high school juniors, college students interested in manufacturing and other people interested in a career in mold making.
The reason why is obvious to anyone in any manufacturing, tooling and construction company.
"Out of necessity," said President Darcy King. "We have a shortage of skilled workers in our trade, and throughout the years, we've tried everything to recruit and hire people that we need to run our operation and grow our operation."
That makes it hard to run a business.
"We decided to take matters in our own hands," he said.
One key feature is that Unique Tool has named a dedicated instructor — Bob Clifford — and taken him away from shop floor production duties.
"We've assigned one of our master mold makers to serve full time as lead instructor for this program," King said. He added the program stresses safety as the most important aspect of work.
They are learning on modern metalworking machinery. Unique Tool & Gauge invests 10-15 percent of sales in new technology, King said.
The automotive toolmaker is working with the Greater Essex County School District's Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), a school-to-work program in the skilled trades, and the Dual Credit Program of St. Clair College in Windsor.
The first eight students began working at Unique Tool in February. Those who successfully complete the program will graduate Feb. 1, 2019. Six of the students are high school juniors through OYAP. Two are from St. Clair College.
All eight are working full time at Unique Tool & Gauge, where they receive both salary and benefits.