Batavia, Ohio-based machine builder Milacron has established the Advanced Manufacturing Academy with the Grant Career Center in nearby Bethel, Ohio, to put the plastics industry on the career radar of tech-minded high school students.
Milacron donated a Q-55 Series injection molding machine and rigging, the salary of the main instructor, and the time and support of a curriculum team to launch the program.
An operating company of Hillenbrand Inc., Milacron also manufactures extrusion systems and auxiliary equipment for the automotive, construction, medical, telecommunications, material handling and packaging markets.
Milacron employs 1,900 people worldwide, and many plan to retire in upcoming years. The AMA is a way to reach out to the next generation of skilled workers.
Fourteen high school seniors signed up for the AMA, which sets a tuition-free training path to employment opportunities in advanced manufacturing without requiring students to leave the Bethel campus except on a few occasions.
Milacron had already been partnering with the Grant Career Center for about a decade, opening its doors to plant tours and offering job shadowing to students from several school districts. When some lab space at the center opened up, Milacron officials jumped at the chance to get further involved and the AMA was formed.
Between its Batavia headquarters facility and a manufacturing site in Mount Orab, Milacron employs nearly 1,000 people in the area, including construction and welding tradespeople, machining experts and engineers.
Many of the company's employees are approaching retirement — some with 40-50 years of service to Milacron. In August, three employees with a collective tenure of more than 150 years of manufacturing experience retired.
The AMA is an example of how Milacron is trying to close the skilled labor gap and build up a talent pipeline, according to Lindsay Niedzwiedski, the machine builders' lead enterprise leader.
The program is in line with Milacron's core value to "partner with possibility," Niedzwiedski added, pointing to proximity and timing as big factors in making the partnership possible.