More than three-quarters of manufacturers say attracting and retaining a quality workforce is their biggest concern, edged out just slightly by supply chain challenges.
To catch the attention of prospective job seekers, many of these companies are opening their doors as part of MFG Day 2022, organized by the Manufacturing Institute.
Dozens of plastics industry businesses are participating, including foodservice products manufacturer Cambro Manufacturing Co. Inc. in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Founded in 1951 by brothers Argyle and William Campbell, Cambro's first product was a fiberglass food tray that became a staple in cafeterias. Now the company offers 15,000 products — insulated — manufactured at facilities in California and Mebane, N.C.
The company typically employs 750-850 people in the U.S. with 50-100 open positions at any given time, according to Priscilla Urbina, Cambro's organizational learning and development manager.
The company needs to fill manufacturing, machine operator and office positions such as sales and marketing, accounting, purchasing and human resources.
To put manufacturing in general, and Cambro in particular, on the radar of prospective job recruits, the company marked MFG Day 2022 on Oct. 5 with visits by students who got swag, attended presentations and had a meet-and-greet with employees.
One of the goals was to get out the word that 71-year-old Cambro may be a legacy company, but it develops new talent.
"An entry-level job today could be a plant manager tomorrow," Urbina said.
Events like Manufacturing Day, along with a comprehensive benefits package that includes profit-sharing bonuses and tuition reimbursement, have helped attract new employees to Sekisui Kydex, a thermoplastics material maker based in Bloomsburg, Pa. An MFG Day participant since 2015, Sekisui Kydex had an in-person event Oct. 5 at its Bloomsburg facility to make local youth aware of career paths in their own backyards, according to Heather Coyle, strategic communications manager.
"The career development journey is designed to help young adults work while figuring out what path they want to take," Coyle said in an email. "With tuition reimbursement and catalytic coaching, employees can go back to school to specialize in the areas they are most passionate about. We have several success stories of employees who began their career as an inspector packer and are now engineers, systems administrators and more."
Sekisui Kydex invites middle and high school students to see a range of opportunities. This year they participated in an applications lab with testing equipment; a design lab to explore color science and make colors; a manufacturing station to learn about production, maintenance and automation; and a circular design workshop about the sustainability of thermoplastics and how pattern, color and texture work in design.
The goals are to overcome the negative stigma of manufacturing careers and create awareness of opportunities right out of high school.
"Students still have a misconception of manufacturing positions being dirty and having no growth potential," Coyle said. "The reality is that as manufacturing automation increases, opportunities to develop careers in engineering positions will abound. Manufacturing is a career opportunity worth investigating."