Detroit — The skills shortage is always a top concern of North American injection molders, but the issue seems to have only gotten worse since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Top molding executives talked about the issue and how they're dealing with it at the recent Injection Molding & Design show in Detroit.
Jason Travitz, senior injection molding process instructor at the American Injection Molding Institute, explained that he stumbled into plastics in college. Today he teaches hands-on injection molding, "working with a lot of folks that are coming in from the shop floor, although we teach some higher-level classes as well."
Travitz touted an apprenticeship program that molders in the Erie, Pa., area started as a model for other areas suffering from a shortage of skilled workers.
"From what I see, when companies can't find people to hire, I see them going to LinkedIn and poaching people from other companies vs. growing their own talent from the ground up," Travitz said.
"We had a situation where we started an apprenticeship program with northwestern Pennsylvania, because basically owners in a tri-county area got together and said, 'Why don't we work together to train and educate the people that we need, rather than trying to hire from each other," he said.
The alternative? "I hear stories [from molders saying] we can't fire anybody because we can't replace them. And so I see a lot of bad from my side," Travitz said.